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VOL. V. 


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BOOK vn. 



THE LAND AND THE TRIBES ... ... ... ... 3 


THE KINGDOM OF THE BACTRIANS ... ... ... ... 19 


THE SCRIPTURES OF IRAN ... ... ... ... 49 



AVESTA ... ... ... ... ... ... 68 




THE REFORM OF THE FAITH ... ... ... ... 129 


THE DOCTRINE OF THE AVESTA ... ... ... ... 149 



434 1O6 




THE LAW OF THE PRIESTS ... ... ... ... 201 







THE EMPIRE OF THE MEDES ... ... ... ... 292 









VOL. V. 

> v C . r t f J> ''v* > 




BETWEEN the valley of the Indus and the land of the 
Euphrates and Tigris, hounded on the south by the 
ocean and the Persian Gulf, on the north by the 
broad steppes which the Oxus and Jaxartes vainly 
attempt to fertilise, by the Caspian Sea and the valley 
of the Aras, lies the table-land of Iran. Rising to an 
average height of 4000 feet above the level of the sea, 
it forms an oblong, the length of which from east to 
west is something more than 1500 miles. The breadth 
in the east is about 1000 miles, but at the narrowest 
point, from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf, it is 
not much more than 500 miles ; while the western 
edge, reaching from the Persian Gulf to the mountains 
of Aderbeijan, again extends over a distance of about 
750 miles. 

In this seclusion, neither penetrated by bays of the 
sea nor traversed by mighty rivers, the region exhibits 
a certain similarity to the highlands of Arabia. The 
centre of the Iranian land, like that of Arabians occupied 
by a great desert where only nomadic life is possible. 
But the soil of Iran is more diversified in regard to 

B 2 


elevation and depression. The northern half of the 
land is higher than the southern, the centre is hollowed 
out in the form of a trough, so that in the east, at any 
rate, the waters from the inner slopes of the moun- 
tainous rim fall into the depression, and collect in 
fructifying lakes. The oases and fertile valleys are 
more numerous and extensive than in Arabia, and 
though the rivers of the inner table-land, like the 
streams of the northern edge, which flow to the north, 
are lost in the sand or end in unimportant lakes, they 
nevertheless render agriculture possible over wide 
tracts of country. 

The northern side is more diversified and superior 
in formation to the south. The southern edge, which 
sinks down to the ocean, closely resembles Arabia 
in the climate and the nature of the country ; the 
mountains of the north, on the other hand, exhibit 
green pastures and splendid forests where Arabia has 
nothing but bare peaks : in the Hindu Kush, and 
Elburz on the Caspian Sea, as well as in Aderbeijan, 
they rise into vast Alpine districts. The eastern edge, 
extending over a distance of 900 miles, rises like a 
steep wall out of the valley of the Indus ; a few long 
and difficult passes lead from the Indus to the high 
ground, which on the north commences with cold bare 
flats, and on the south with slopes still more desolate 
and barren, and at the same time intolerably hot. Only 
the terraces of the valley of the Cabul, which flows 
down into the Indus, allow a convenient exit towards 
the north, and present a soil to a great extent so 
fertile that three harvests can be reaped in the year. 
The western edge of Iran, on the other hand, is formed 
by parallel ridges running from the north-west to the 
south-east, between which, beside extensive mountain 
pastures, lie narrow and well-watered valleys. In the 


north-west the low-lying regions are rich in meadows 
and forest ; while those between the abutting ridges of 
the western and southern edge are warm, and even hot, 
in climate, rich and luxuriant in vegetation. 

On this table-land the heat is softened, though not 
entirely, by the elevation of the soil. After violent 
storms in the spring, no cloud darkens the sky from 
May to September ; the atmosphere is peculiarly dry 
and clear, and through the fine air can be seen, bright 
and sharp, the outlines of the mountains and the whole 
country, while at night the star-lit sky almost replaces 
the light of day. The changes in temperature are 
sudden and severe. From cold, snow-covered terraces, 
8000 feet in height, we suddenly descend to the 
glowing heat of the plains, lying barely 2000 feet 
above the sea. In the north-east oppressive heat 
alternates with great cold ; the north suffers from a 
severe winter, with heavy falls of snow and icy storms, 
blowing over the Caspian Sea and the broad steppes ; in 
the south the air is filled with the dust of the desert, 
here extraordinarily fine, and the hot winds give the 
heaps of sand the appearance of changing waves, and 
roll masses of it to the sky. 1 

As far back as our information extends, we find the 
table-land of Iran occupied by a group of nations 
closely related to each other, and speaking dialects 
of the same language. On the edges of that great 
desert, which occupies the centre of the land, are 
tracts of pasture, and further inland, treeless steppes, 
which, however, are watered here and there by 
brackish pools, and produce a salt vegetation barely 
sufficient to provide buffaloes and camels with susten- 
ance, until the soil becomes entirely barren. In the 
western part of these steppes wandered a pastoral 

1 Bitter, "Erdkunde," 7, 234240; 8, 721. 


people, whom Herodotus calls Sagartians. They were 
horsemen, but, according to the historian's statement, 
carried no weapons of attack beyond a dagger and a 
rope of twisted straps, at one end of which was a loop. 
In this they placed their confidence in battle ; they 
threw it over men and horses, and so dragged them 
down and strangled them. In the inscriptions of the 
Acha3menids this nation is called Aqagarta. 1 

Close to the Indus, and beyond the bare, hot, treeless 
shores of the ocean, the southern part of the plain 
consists of sandy flats, in which nothing grows but 
prickly herbs and a few palms. The springs are a 
day's journey from each other, and often more. This 
region was possessed by a people whom Herodotus 
calls Sattagydae, and the companions of Alexander of 
Macedonia, Gedrosians. 2 Among the nations of the 
East who were subject to them, the inscriptions of the 
Achoemenids mention the " T/tatayhus" which the 
Greeks understood as Sattagush and Gadrush. Neigh- 
bours of the Gandarians, who, as we know, dwelt on 
the right bank of the Indus down to the Cabul, the 
Gedrosians led a wandering, predatory life ; under the 
Persian kings they were united into one satrapy with 
the Gandarians. 3 To the south of the Gedrosians, on 
the coast, there dwelt, according to the Greeks, a 
miserable race, eaters of fish and tortoises, who built 

1 Herod. 1, 125; 7, 85 ; Lassen, "Z. D. M. G." 6, 55. Herodotus 
reckons the Paretaceni among the tribes of tho Modes (1, 101); the 
Sagartians, whom he represents as armed partly like Persians, partly 
like Pactyans, with the Carmanians, ho places among the Persians. 
Yet the 'nomad Sagartians seem rather to have had relations with tho 
Modes than the Persians ; for, according to the inscription of Bohistun, 
a rebel obtains a following among the Sagartians by giving himself out 
to bo a descendant of Cyaxares, the Median king. Ptolemy places tho 
Sngnrtians in Media : cf. Plin."" Hist Nat." 6, 29. 

a Arrian, " Anab." 6, 22 ff.; " Ind " 25, 26; Curtius, 9, 10, 5. 

Bohistun, 1, 6; Perecp. 1, 17; Herod. 3, 91. 


their houses of the bones of whales thrown up by the 
sea. They wove their nets from the bark of palms, 
and their weapons were javelins hardened in the fire. 1 
'Hie edge on the south allows no streams of any size 
to flow to the sea, so that even to this day this coast 
presents only a few small fertile spots. About equally 
distant from the northern and southern edge of the 
table-land, to the east of the desert of the interior, lies 
a considerable lake, now called Hamun, but known 
to the Greeks as Areios. It forms the centre of a cul- 
tivated district, though the storms from the west often 
drive the sand of the desert to its shores. This basin 
is formed by and receives important streams flowing 
from the inner slopes of the northern and eastern edge. 
From the southern spurs of the Hindu Kush comes 
the Hilmend, the Haetumat of the Avesta, i. e. rich 
in bridges, the Etymaudros of the Greeks, which has a 
course of about 400 miles, and before falling into the 
lake is joined by the Arghandab. The Lora, which 
flows from the east, but further to the south, does not 
now reach the lake. From the north flow the Harut 
and Chashrud. Round this lake, and on the banks of the 
Hilmend, the Arghandab, and the Lora, lies a fruitful 
region ; higher up the walls of the valleys are covered 
with forests, until towards the east the upper course of 
the rivers is enclosed by bare cliffs. On the shores of 
the Hamun, and in the valley of the Hilmend, dwelt a 
people whom the inscriptions of the Achaemenids call 
Zaraka, i. e. dwellers on the lake. A lake in Old 
Persian is Daraya; in the ancient language of the East, 
Zarayanh ; in modern Persian, Zareh. Hence we 
understand why Herodotus calls this nation Saran- 
gians, the later Greeks, Zarangians and Drangians. 
According to the Greeks the Zarakas were a warlike 

i Strabo, p. 711 ; Arrian, " Iiid." 25, 26; " Anab." 6, 23. 


nation, armed with Median bows and spears, unsur- 
passed in battle on horseback ; and a tribe of them 
which lived under good and equitable laws bore the 
name of Aria^pians. 1 The ruins of cities and works of 
irrigation testify to the former prosperity of this region. 
East of the Zarakas, up the valley of the Arghandab, 
dwelt the Arachoti. In the inscriptions of the Achae- 
menids they are called Harauvali ; in the Avesta, 
Harahvaiti, i. e. the rich in water. These names the 
Arachoti received from the river on which they were 
settled, the older name of which was Arachotus 
(Sarasvatf).^ Herodotus does not designate the 
Arachoti by this name derived from the river of their 
land, but by the tribal name of Pactyes ; he tells us 
that they wore peculiar bows, daggers, and skins. 3 
The Afghans, who in ancient times occupied the region 
from the Suleiman mountains on the east as far as 
the Arghandab on the west, Shorawak on the south, 
the Cabul and the range of the Sefid-Kuh on the 
north, and in the middle ages forced their way to 
Cabul and Peshawur, still call themselves Pashtun and 
Pakhtun, or Rohilo, t. e. mountaineers. They still speak 
their old rough mountain language, which is closely 

1 Arrian, " Anab." 3, 27 ; Diod. 17, 81 ; Strabo, p. 724. 

Vol. IV. p. 33. 

* The city of Kapisakani, which Darius, according to the inscription 
of Behiatun (3, 9, 1), conquered in the land of the Arachoti, is no doubt 
the Capissa of Pliny, in the district of Capissene ; " Hist. Nat." 6, 25. 
Pliny speaks of the city and river of Cabul as belonging to the 
Arachoti. The inhabitants of the southern slope of the Hindu Kush 
are known to the Greeks as Paropanisadae. The explanation of the 
name by Paropanisos (Paropamisus), Paropanishadha, given by Lassen, 
is quoted in Vol. IV. p. 21, n. 2. In the Babylonian text of the inscrip- 
tion of Behistun, the Gandaras of the Persian text are called Paru- 
panisana. In the narrower sense the name denotes the south-western 
part of the range of the Hindu Kush, the group which forms the cradle 
of the Herirud and Hilmend, the modern Ghuristan, to the west of 
the plateau of Ghasna. 


connected with the dialects of the Arian tribes on the 
Indus. 1 

Eastward of Elburz, the point where the northern 
edge of Iran again rises into a lofty range to the west 
(Demavend is more than 18,000 feet in height), and 
then sinks down to the Caspian Sea, lay the Hyrca- 
nians. In the inscriptions of the Achsemenids their 
land is known as Varkana ; the modern name is Jorjan. 
Here, according to the Greeks, the mountains were 
covered with forests of oaks, where swarms of wild 
bees had their hives ; in the valleys vines and fig-trees 
flourished, and the soil down to the sea was so luxu- 
riant that corn grew from the fallen grains without 
any special sowing. 2 The description is hardly ex- 
aggerated. The waters pouring from the heights and 
snow- fields of Elburz water the soil of the coast so 
thoroughly, that a tropical growth flourishes in Jorjan, 
Taberistan, and Ghilan, the luxuriance of which is 
assisted by the volcanic heat of the earth. The 
lagunes of the coast are succeeded by marsh forests ; 
higher up are fields of rice and plantations of sugar- 
cane, and beyond these fertile meadows, above which 
splendid forests of oaks, planes, and elms clothe the 
heights of Elburz. There is abundance of water fruits, 
figs and mulberries, olives and oranges, and the 
vigorous creepers of the vines run even to the summits 
of the trees. 3 Nevertheless, these favoured regions 

1 Lassen, " Indische Alterthumskunde," 1, 428. Fr. Miiller ("Uebor 
die Sprache der Afghanen ") is of the opinion that the Afghan does not 
come between Indian and Persian, but belongs to the Iranian stem, 
and the Afghan has preserved the old Bactrian relations of sound more 
faithfully than the Persian, and thus shows itself to be a direct 
descendant of the old eastern dialect of Iran. Trump proves that 
Afghan is an ancient independent language of strong Indian type. 
"Z. D. M. G."21, 10 ff. 

* Strabo, pp. 508, 514, 724 ; Plin. " Hist. Nat." 6, 29; Diod. 17, 75. 

3 Bitter, ' Erdkunde," 8, 425 ff. 


have a darker side. Frequent earthquakes disturb the 
soil ; in the winter furious north winds blowing over 
the Caspian rage along the walls of Elburz, and even 
on the outlying spurs the snow falls to the depth of 
several fathoms ; the rain-clouds, hemmed in by the 
mountain ranges, often burst in water-spouts, which 
lay the land far and wide under water, and roll as 
torrents down the gorges ; the marsh air blanches the 
inhabitants, while in the summer the hot and moist 
climate breeds deadly fever. 

Further to the east, where the Caspian Sea ends and 
the mountains of Iran descend towards the desolate, 
pathless steppes of the Oxus, is a wild, hilly country. 
In the depressions, and there only, the region of the 
Parthians (Parthava in the inscriptions of the Achse- 
menids 1 ) exhibits fruitful lands, and, further eastward 
still, agriculture is favoured by the long, narrow valley 
of the Areios (Herirud). Springing from the southern 
slope of the Hindu Kush, the river flows towards 
the west along the inner edge of the table-land, till 
it bursts through the northern barrier in order to lose 
itself in the sand of the steppes. In this valley the 
district of the modern Herat, lay the Areians, who 
arc called Ilaraiva in the inscriptions of the Persian 

1 laid. "Charac. Mans. Parth." 1014. The Parthians rose with 
tho Hyrcanians against Darius ; Parthians and Hyrcanians formed ono 
satrapy. Tho Parthians are the Pahlav of Mosos of Khorene, tho 
Pohlow of later writers. The mention of thorn in the inscriptions of 
Darius proves that they are not a later immigrant Scythian, t. e. non- 
Arian, nation, as Justin, Strabo, and others maintain. Tho cities 
which the inscription of Bohistun mentions in Parthia (2, 95 ; 3, 4), 
Vicpauzatis and Patigrabana, we cannot fix more definitely ; Ammian 
(23, 6) mentions Patigran in Media. Parthunisa, with the graves of 
the Parthian kings, mentioned in Isidorus, " which tho Greeks call 
Nisaea," is Parthava-Niaya, and must be sought for near the modern 
Nishapur. It must be the Nia which tho Vendidad places between 
Mourn and Bakhdhi. Justi, ; " Boitrage/ 1 2, 6 compares Isidorus' 
Bariypn/3av, o tan rt\uvu>v. 


kings. The name points to the possession of water. To 
the north of the Areians, in the valley of the Margos 
(now Murghab), which rises in the northern edge of 
the table-land, and flows to the north-west, where it 
also ends in the sands of the desert, in Margiana (Old 
Persian, Marghush ; Bactrian, Mouru ; modern Merv), 
lay the Margiani, in a well -cultivated region, rich in 
vineyards, with numerous cities and a large popula- 
tion. But t)ie fertility only extends so far as the soil 
can be watered from the Margos and the neighbouring 

At the foot of the mountain barrier, towards the 
northern steppes, and on the edge of the steppes of 
the Oxus, to the north of the Hyrcanians, Parthians, 
and Margiani, in a land which only partially admits 
of agriculture, lay the Chorasmians, a people partly 
stationary and partly migratory the Uvarazmiya 
of the Achaemenids, the Hvairizem of the A vesta. 
Further to the east, where the edge rises to the lofty 
Hindu Kush, there lies on its northern slope a favoured 
district in the region of the Upper Oxus. That river 
flows from the table-land of Pamire, which lies more 
than 15,000 feet above the sea, exactly at the point 
where the Hindu Kush abuts on the Belurdagh, the 
western edge of the central table-land. On the banks 
of the river, which flows in a north-westerly direction, 
extend broad mountain pastures, where support is found 
in the fresh mountain air for numerous herds of horses 
and sheep, and beneath the wooded hills are blooming 
valleys. On these slopes of the Hindu Kush, the 
middle stage between the table-land and the deep 
plain of the Caspian Sea, lay the Bactrians the Bak/t- 
tri of the Achsemenids, the Bakhdhi of the Avesta. 
Curtius, following the accounts of the companions of 
Alexander, tells us of the land of the Bactrians that it 


was much diversified in character; in one part were pas- 
tures, another was rich in beautiful fruit-trees and vines, 
and frequent springs watered the rich soil, on which 
corn was cultivated. These districts supported a large 
number of oxen and horses. Under the range of 
Paropauisos (i . e. on the slope of the Hindu Kush) lay 
the city of Bactra, on the river of the same name, 
which washed its walls. But a great part of the country 
was covered with waste tracts of sand. If the winds 
blew from the Caspian Sea, they swept the sand into 
high hills, under which not only did every trace of 
the road disappear, but travellers were at times over- 
whelmed ; and, as if voyaging by sea, it was necessary 
to guide the course by the stars. 1 Strabo remarks, 
after Apollodorus of Artemita, that Bactria was the 
best part of East Iran (Ariana). In ancient times the 
Bactrians were hardly distinguished from nomads ; 
but their land was extensive, and produced fruits of all 
kinds, with the exception of the vine. The fertility 
of the land enabled the Hellenic princes to make great 
conquests. Their cities were Bactra, traversed by the 
river of the same name, Darapsa, Aomus (avarana, 
i. e. protection), Kariata, and many others, and besides 
these cities, the Bactrians had citadels on lofty rocks. 2 
According to Strabo, Bactra was also called Zariaspa, 
and Pliny asserts that at any rate in earlier times it 
was called by that name. In Arrian Zariaspa is the 
largest city of Bactria, while Ptolemy planes Zariaspa 
to the north of Bactra, on the bank of the Oxus. 
Zariaspa means golden horse. A river might possibly 
be known by such a name, but hardly a city, unless it 
belonged to a tribe of the name of Zariaspians, and 

1 Curt. 7, 4. 

Strabo, pp. 118, 516, 682; Arrian, " Anab." 3, 29. On Aoruus, cf. 
Vol. IV. p. 395. 


was inhabited by them. In fact Ptolemy places the 
tribe of the Zariaspians in his Zariaspa. 1 

The air on these north-western terraces of the Hindu 
Kush is warm, and the soil sufficiently vigorous, under 
irrigation, to produce rice and southern fruits. Eight 
leagues below the snow-fields of the mountains, which 
resist even the hottest months of the year, two good 
leagues to the north of the place where the Dehas, 
after forcing a passage through the last heights, reaches 
the plains, lies the city of Balkh, on the banks of that 
river. At this day it is a town only partially in- 
habited ; but the ruins of the ancient city are said to 
cover a circuit of several leagues. The adjacent soil 
is now well cultivated ; the fields are thickly planted 
with trees, and beside old water- courses, now dried up, 
and extensive ruins of yet older aqueducts, eighteen 
channels still convey their rills to fields under active 
cultivation. 2 

North of the Bactrians, beyond the Oxus, on the 
western slope of Belurdagh, in the valley of the Poly- 
timetus (Zarefshan, i. e. strewing gold), which flows 
towards the Oxus from the east, but, instead of joining 
it, ends in Lake Dengiz, lay the Sogdiani of the Greeks, 
the Sut/uda of the Old Persian inscriptions, and Qugli- 
dha of the Avesta, in the region of the modern Sogd. 
As the Oxus in its upper course separates the Bactrians 
from the Sogdiani, the Jaxartes, further to the north, 
separates the latter from the Scyths. According to 
Strabo, the manners of the Bactrians and Sogdiani 
were similar, but the Bactrians were less rude. 3 Mara- 
canda (Samarcand), the chief city of the Sogdiani, on 

1 Ptolem. 6, 11 ; 8, 7 ; Strabo, pp. 514, 516 ; Arrian, " Anab." 3, 29 ; 
4, 1, 16, 22 ; Plin. " Hist. Nat." 6, 17, 18 ; Steph. Byz. subvoc. Firdusi 
mentions a horo Zarasp. 

2 Elphinstono, " Kabul," 2, 213, 214. 8 Strabo, loc. cit. 


the Polytimctus, is said to have had a circuit of 70 
stades in the fourth century B.C. The soil is not 
without fertility, but the climate varies between great 
heat and severe cold. 

Herodotus observes that the Bactrians, who carried 
bows of reed and short lances, closely resembled the 
northern Indians in armour, clothing, and mode of 
life, and then informs us that the Areians, Parthians, 
Sogdiani, and Chorasmians resembled the Bactrians. 
All these tribes of the east, according to the account 
of Herodotus, carried the Indian bow of reed ; the 
Areians alone used the Median bow, which Herodotus 
states to have been in vogue not only among the Medcs, 
but also among all the nations of Western Iran. He 
adds that in ancient times the Medes were called 
Areians by all men. Strabo uses the name Ariana for 
the land of all the nations of Iran, except that of the 
Medes and Persians, i. e. for the whole eastern half 
of Iran. 1 In Diodorus also the nations of Eastern Iran 
are Arians. 2 The Avesta, which, as we shall show, 
belongs to the east of Iran, calls its native land Airyao 
Dahvyu, i. e. abode of the Airy as ; or Airyao Danhaco, 
i. e. land of the Airyas, in contrast to the Anairyao 
Dan/tavo, i.e. the non-Arian lands. 3 In his inscrip- 
tions king Darius styles himself " a Persian, son of a 
Persian, an Arian (ariya) of an Arian tribe," 4 and there- 
fore the name must have held good of the west of Iran 
also, and have included all the nations of Iran, though 
afterwards it continued in use more especially for the 

1 Herod. 7, 62 ; Strabo (pp. 516, 517, 724) includes in Ariana, 
Gedrosia, Arachosia, Drangiana, Paropanisus, Aria, Parthia, and 
Caramania. Cf. Pausan. 2, 3, 8. 

* Diod. 1,94. Damascius (" De Primis Principiis," p. 381) speaks 
of the Mayoi it fat irav TO aptov yivof. 

3 Vondid." 19, 132 ; " Mihr Yasht," 4, 13 ; " Tistar Yasht," 9, 56, 60. 

4 Naksh-i-Rustem, a., 14. 


tribes of the east. The inhabitants of the modern 
Persian kingdom call their kingdom by the general 
name of Iran. Iran is only the regular new Persian 
form of the old name, which in the west was pro- 
nounced Ariyana, and in the east Airyana. 

We remember that the ruling nation of India called 
themselves Arya, and this name compared with Airya 
and Ariya shows us that the nations of Iran assumed 
the same title with very .little difference. Among the 
Greeks Ariya and Airya became Areioi and Arioi, and 
the name of the land, Ariyana and Airyana, became 
Ariana. We have learnt the meaning of the names 
Aryas, Ariyas, Airyas ; they signify " the noble or 
ruling people" (IV. 8). Much the same is the sense 
of the name Artseans, 1 which, according to the asser- 
tion of Herodotus, was the title by which the Per- 
sians called themselves ; it signifies " the exalted," or 
" mighty." The Persians may have assumed it after 
they became the ruling people in Iran and Hither 

These distinctions show us that the Aryas whom we 
found on the Indus and in the Panjab, and who forced 
their way from thence to the conquest and colonisa- 
tion of the valley of the Ganges, and then extended 
their dominion over the Deccan, and imported their 
religion and their civilisation into those wide regions, 
were closely connected with the group of nations which 
occupied the table-land of Iran. It is obvious that 
this relationship was most strictly maintained and 
most strongly marked where the intercourse between 
the neighbouring nations was most lively, i. e. among 
the nations of Eastern Iran. The conclusion drawn 
from the common title of the two nations on the west 
and east of the Indus, and from the statements of 

1 Horod. 7, 61. Cf. Stoph. Byz. 'Aprcu'a. 


Herodotus about the manners of the eastern and the 
name of the western nations of Iran, is confirmed by 
the examination of the existing remnants of the 
ancient languages of Iran, whether spoken in the east 
or the west. This evidence derived from the names 
and the language is confirmed yet further by the 
coincidence in certain traits of religion and worship. 

We are not in a position to fix the place from which 
and the time when the Arian tribes entered the table- 
land of Iran and peopled it. That Iran was not 
their native country is clear from the divergence of 
the Arian stock from the common stem of the Indo- 
Europeans (IV. 4). Still less can we decide whether 
the Arians found an older population already settled 
in Iran. So far as the ancient monuments of east 
and west allow us to form an opinion, there exist no 
elements of an alien language from which we could 
deduce the existence of an earlier population, which 
the Arians conquered. Yet we cannot deny that 
tribes of an alien origin and character were settled on 
the western spurs of the mountain wall of Iran, in the 
north no less than in the south. 1 The foreign elements 
which the later forms of the language of Iran have 
adopted are due to the influence which the Semitic 
neighbours of the Arians on the west, and the 
dominion of the Arabs, exercised on Iran. As to the 
direction in which the Arians entered Iran, we can 
only conclude, from their close relationship to the Arians 
of India, that they peopled the east of Iran before the 
west. If the Arians of India came into the Panjab, as 
we assumed, soon after 2000 B.C., the Arians of Iran 
entered the eastern part of that country at a date 
certainly not later. According to the list of dynasties 

1 On the tribe of tho Brahuis in the south-oast, on this side of tho 
Indus, cf. Vol. IV. p. 10. 


furnished by Berosus, the Ariuns about 2500 B.C. were 
not only settled in Iran, but already possessed the 
western part of the country. He represents the Medes 
as conquering Babylonia in 2458 B.C., and from this 
date down to 2224 B.C. mentions eight Median kings 
as ruling over Babylon (I. 241, 247). 

In spite of their cruel treatment, the nucleus of the 
ancient Arian population of Iran has not succumbed to 
the alien dynasties, the Seleucids, Arabs, and Mongols 
who have invaded the land since the fall of the Achse- 
menids ; and the ancient territory has been main- 
tained, with some losses, even against the incursions 
and immigrations of the Sacse, Yuechis, and Turkish 
hordes. As in the vast regions of the Indus and the 
Ganges, so in Iran the ancient language still lives 
on the lips of the modern population. Yet the 
changes have been great. Under the Arsacids the Old 
Persian passed into Middle Persian, which at a later 
time was known by the name of the Parthians, the 
tribe at that time supreme in Persia. Pahlav and 
Pehlevi mean Parthian, and, as applied to language, 
the language of the Parthians, i. e. of the Parthian era. 1 
In the west this older Middle Persian grew up out of 
the Old Persian, in the east out of the Old Bactrian. 
In the latest period of the dominion of the Sassanids, 
the recent Middle Persian or Parsee took the place of 
Pehlevi. When the kingdom of the Sassanids suc- 
cumbed to the Arabs, and Arabic became the language 
of the ruling people in Iran, the reaction which took 
place in the eastern districts of the country against the 

1 Haug, " The book of Arda Viraf," p. xxv. Mordtmann has shown 
on the coins of tho Arsacids and Sassanids the stages between tho 
older forms and the language of Firdusi; "Z. D. M. G." 4, 84 ff., 8, 
9 ff. On the forms of the Old Bactrian on the coins of the Grreco- 
Bactrian and Indo-Scythian princes : Lassen," Indische Altorthum." 
2 2 , 834 IT. Spiegel, " Parsigrainmatik," s. 116 ff. 

VOL. v. c 


dominion of the Abbasids brought about the formation 
of the new Persian, which was finally completed 
when the national reaction broke out in the beginning 
of the eleventh century of our era. Beginning from 
Merv, Balkh, and Sejestan (the ancient Haetumat), that 
rising found its strongest point in Ghasna and CabuL 
It did not preserve the religion, but it saved the 
language, nationality, and independence of Iran. The 
change from the Middle Persian to the modern began 
with the north-eastern dialects ; in the south-east the 
Afghans and Beluchees still speak in ancient forms, 
closely akin to the dialects of the peasants of the Panjab. 
To this day the greater part of the entire population 
of Iran consists of the descendants of the Arians, in 
spite of all the distress and ruin which the land has 
suffered, 1 though the residuum of foreign elements is 
larger here than beyond the Indus, especially in the 
north-west, in Aderbeijan, and above all in Bactria and 
Sogdiana, in the north-east. The descendants of the 
Arians are still recognised by the formation of their 
bodies, which appeared so striking to Western nations 
in antiquity the slender growth, the semicircular, 
united eyebrows, and the yellow skin, which becomes 
browner towards the east. The Persians and Afghans 
still possess a sound judgment, a keen intelligence, and 
lively sense of poetry characteristics which, as we 
saw, belonged in a pre-eminent degree to the Arians 
of India. 

1 It has been recently proved that the inhabitants of the mountain 
country between Cabul and Herat, the Aiinaks and Hazares, speak 



AMONG the ruins of the residence of the kings of 
Asshur at Chalah, on the confluence of the Greater Zab 
and the Tigris, was discovered the obelisk which 
Shalmanesar II., who reigned from 859 to 823 B.C. over 
Assyria, erected in memory of his successes. In the 
tribute offered to him we find the rhinoceros, the 
elephant, the humped ox, and the camel with two 
humps (II. 320). This species of camel and the yak are 
found in Bactria, on the southern edge of the Caspian 
Sea, and in Tartary, and we afterwards find elephants 
in the possession of the rulers of Bactria. 1 Hence, in 
order to obtain these animals for tribute, the armies of 
Shalmanesar must have advanced as far as the eastern 
tribes of the Iranian table-land. From the inscrip- 
tions of Tiglath Pilesar II., it is clear that he advanced 
along the same table-land as far as the Hilmend 
and the Arachoti, if not as far as Bactria. Among 
the lands subjugated in 745 B.C., he enumerates Nisaa, 
Zikruti, and Arakuttu. In Nisaa we cannot mistake 
Nisaea in the east of Media (p. 31). The Zikruti were 
no doubt the Sagartians of Herodotus, the A9agarta 
of the old Persian inscriptions. 2 Arakuttu represents 

1 Polyb. fragm. 34 f. ; below, p. 26. 

8 Above, p. 6; Vol. III. p. 3, "Zikruti in rugged Media I added to 
the land of Assyria ; " ib. p. 4. 

c 2 


in a Semitic form the name of the Arachoti, the 
Harauvati of the Achaeraenids (p. 8). So far as we 
can at present judge from inscriptions, the successors of 
Tiglath Pilesar did not carry their campaigns further 
to the east of Iran, and we can assert with certainty 
of both the sovereigns who raised the power of Assyria 
to its summit, Esarhaddon and Assurbauipal (G81 
G26 B.C.), that they made no conquests in this direction. 
If the inscriptions of the Assyrians leave us in 
almost total darkness about Bactria, the Medo-Persian 
epic poetry can give us full information about the 
country. When Ninus, king of Assyria, had subjugated 
all the nations of Asia as far as the Nile and the 
Tanais, he made an attempt upon Bactria, but without 
success. The entrance into the land was difficult, the 
number of warriors great, and they knew how to fight 
bravely. Then Ninus collected an army of two mil- 
lions of soldiers, which was opposed by Oxyartes, the 
king of the Bactrians, with 400,000 men. When the 
Assyrian army came in detachments out of the passes, 
Oxyartes attacked and drove them back into the 
mountains with the loss of 1 00,000 men. The army 
of Ninus then combined, outnumbered and overcame 
the Bactrians, and scattered them into their cities, 
which Ninus took with little trouble. But Bactra, 
where was the palace of the kings, was large and well 
supplied, and had a very strong citadel in a high 
position, while the city extended over the plain. It 
resisted for a long time, till Semiramis ascended the 
citadel, and Ninus was enabled to take possession of 
the treasures of gold and silver which were in Bactra. 
At a later time Semiramis collected her vast army 
for the invasion of India in Bactria, and returned 
to Bactra after she had been defeated on the Indus, 
and had lost two-thirds of her army (II. 10). Such 


are the descriptions given by the epic poetry of the 
Medes and Persians, in the account of the rise of 
Assyria and subjugation of Bactria. The Bactrians are 
again brought forward in the narrative of the overthrow 
of Assyria, which was the proper theme of these poems. 
When Sardanapalus has already thrice defeated the 
Medes and Babylonians, a strong force comes to his 
assistance from Bactria. The leader of the Medes 
determines to attack this first, if it would not join in 
the contest for freedom against Assyria. The Bactrians 
joined the Medes, the power of Assyria was broken, 
and Nineveh destroyed (III. 253). 

From these poems it follows that in the first half of 
the sixth century B.C., in which the Medo-Persian epic 
attained its original form, the tradition, or at any rate 
the opinion, existed among the minstrels of Media that 
a powerful kingdom and large metropolis once existed 
in Bactria, the situation of which is correctly described. 
This kingdom possessed a strong citadel and abundant 
treasures, and could put in the field a large army of 
brave warriors. Without such a conception they could 
not represent the first attack of the Assyrians on 
Bactria as a failure, the second as successful only 
after considerable time and trouble had been spent, 
and the conquest as the last and greatest achievement 
of Nirius, the mightiest sovereign of Assyria, which he 
only performed with the aid of Semiramis. 

The inscriptions of the Assyrians have already in- 
formed us that no dominion of Assyria over Eastern 
Iran existed in the earliest period of the kingdom ; on 
the contrary, even when her power was at the highest 
Assyria could only carry on temporary excursions 
into that region. The western part of the country 
was first trodden by the armies of Shalmanesar II. ; 
his inscriptions mention tribute of the Medes, and 


from the inscriptions of his successors it is distinctly 
clear that only the nations of Western Iran were 
tributary dependants of the kings of Asshur from 
the period of Tiglath Pilesar, t. e. from the middle of 
the eighth century B.C., till the period of Phraortes and 
Cyaxares of Media, i. e. till the middle of the seventh 
century B.C. 1 

The conquests of Cyrus, who overthrew the power 
of the Medes, founded the Persian empire, and extended 
it to the east, would give us more accurate information 
about Eastern Iran if connected accounts of these were 
in existence. Herodotus contents himself with stating 
that Cyrus, after subjugating the Lydians, determined to 
march against the Bactrians and Sacse. He conquered 
all the nations of Upper Asia, one after the other, 
without omitting any. 2 Ctesias relates that the Bac- 
trians after a doubtful battle submitted voluntarily 
to Cyrus. According to the account of Xenophon, the 
Hyrcanians, Cadusians, and Sacae joined Cyrus, and in 
the fragments of Nicolaus also the Hyrcanians, Par- 
thians, and " the other nations " passed over to Cyrus 
immediately after the conquest of the Medes. How- 
ever this may be, there is no doubt that the east of 
Iran was subject to Cyrus. He marched through the 
land of the Arachoti, entered into relations with the 
Aria9pas (p. 8), and subjugated the Gandariaus on 
the south of the Cabul. He is also said to have 
imposed tribute on the A9\ r akas to the north of the 
river (IV. 384). The Sogdiani, in any case, were his 
vassals. On a stream which flows into the Jaxartes 
he built a fortress called by his own name, known to 
the Greeks as Cyresbata (ultima Cyra, or with others 
Cyropolis), i. e. the furthest Cyrus. The walls and 
citadels were strong and spacious, and in the neigh- 

1 Vol. III. p. 77. 2 Herod. 1, 153, 177, 201, 204. 


bourhood were six other citadels. 1 The value placed 
by Cyrus on the regions of Eastern Iran is not only 
clear from these fortresses, but may be deduced from 
the statement that his second son Bardya, whom the 
Greeks call Smerdis, was intrusted with the govern- 
ment of Bactria, if indeed the statement is genuine. 2 

The nations and condition of Eastern Iran can be 
ascertained more clearly from the inscriptions of 
Darius. According to his inscription at Behistun, 
his empire in that direction comprised the Parthians, 
Sarangians, Areians, Chorasmians, Bactrians, Sogdiani, 
Gandarii, Sattagydse, Arachoti, and Sacse ; and to these 
the Idhus, *. e. the Indians on the right bank of the 
upper course of the Indus, are added in the inscrip- 
tions of Persepolis and Naksh-i-Rustem. 3 Further 
information is preserved by Herodotus with respect 
to the tribute imposed by Darius on these nations. 
As these statements are undoubtedly derived from 
Persian tribute lists, they serve to throw a side light 
on the state of civilisation existing in the east of Iran 
at the division of the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. 
The Sarangians, who, as we have seen (p. 7), in- 
habited the fertile land round Lake Areios (Hamun), 
together with the Sagartians and some neighbour- 
ing nations on the south, paid yearly 600 Babylonian 
talents into the treasury of the king. The Areians 
(Haraivas), Parthians, Sogdiani, and Chorasmians, who 
formed the sixteenth satrapy of the Persian empire, 
had to pay 300 talents ; the Gedrosians and Gan- 
darians together paid 170 talents; the Caspiani (i.e. 
no doubt, the Tapurians and other tribes on the 
southern shore of the Caspian Sea) and the Sacae, who 

1 Strabo, p. 517; Arrian, "Anab." 4, 23; Plin. "H. N." 6, 18; 
Ptolem. 6, 12. 

2 Ctos. fragui. Pers. c. 12. 

3 Behist 1, 6; Persep. 25; Naksh-i-Rustem, 1214. 


traversed the steppes of the Oxus, t. e. the fifteenth 
satrapy, paid 250 talents ; and the Bactrians, the 
twelfth satrapy of the empire, paid 360 talents. 1 
These sums, which do not include the whole of the 
burdens of the provinces, but are only the land taxes 
which they had to pay, in addition, tolls were levied 
and contributions in kind to the court of the king and 
the satraps, as well as for the maintenance of the army, 
show that at the time of Darius agriculture and 
wealth had proceeded far beyond the earliest stages 
in the eastern districts of Iran. The Babylonian silver 
talent amounts to more than 2000 thalers (6000 
shillings). 2 If a sum of more than 1,200,000 thalers 
(180,000) could be raised every year in land tax 
from the districts round Lake Hamun, extensive 
though they were, and 720,000 thalers (108,000) in 
a similar manner from the land of the Bactrians, the 
gardens, fields, and pastures of these regions must have 
been considerable in breadth, and of great fertility. 

Beyond this indication of the state of the civilisation 
in these districts, we learn but little of their fortunes 
under the dominion of the Persians. Darius (52 L 48.5 
B.C.) informs us, at the beginning of his reign, that his 
father Hystaspes (Vista9pa), his viceroy in Persia, the 
native laud of the kingdom, and with him Vivana the 
Persian, the satrap of Arachosia, and Dadarshis the 
Persian, the satrap of Bactria, had quelled the re- 
bellions of the Parthians, Hyrcanians, and Margiani ; 
that the Mede Takhma9pada had conquered the re- 
bellious Sagartians, and captured their leader, Chit- 
ratakhma, whom he, Darius, had crucified at Arbela. 
The army of the second Pseudo-Smerdis, which at- 
tempted to gain possession of Arachosia, Vivana had 

1 Horod. 3, 91, 92. 

1 Vol. I. p. 285. The amount is about 2096 thalers. 


defeated at the fortress of Kapisakani, in Arachosia, 
and the leaders, with their chief associates, had been 
captured in the fortress of Arsada and put to 'death. 
Hystaspes had slain 6560 men of the Parthians and 
Hyrcanians, and taken 4182 of them captives. Da- 
darshis had subjugated the Mardians by slaying 4203 
of them in battle, and taking 6562 of them captive. 1 
Xerxes, the successor of Darius, successively intrusted 
two of his brothers, Masistes and then Hystaspes, 
with the government of Bactria. 2 In the great cam- 
paign against Hellas, the Bactrians, like all the other 
nations of the kingdom, had to furnish their contin- 
gent ; and when Mardonius had to select the best troops 
in the army in Hellas, in order to winter with them in 
Thessaly, he retained, besides the Persians and Medes, 
the infantry and cavalry of the Bactrians, Sacae, 
and Indians. 3 The Bactrians, under their viceroy 
Hystaspes, revolted against Artaxerxes, the brother 
of Hystaspes. The first battle was not decisive ; in 
the second Artaxerxes conquered, " because the wind 
blew in the face of the Bactrians," and subjugated 
the land. 4 To the army of Darius III. with which 
he met the Macedonians in Assyria, the Bactrians 
contributed 30,000 cavalry ; and in the battle of 
Arbela they fought with the Arachoti on the left wing. 
Accompanied by Bactrian horsemen, Darius escaped 
from the field of battle to Media, and sought after- 
wards to maintain his position in their country. The 
Caspian gates, the pass of Damaghan, were gained, 
-when the satrap of Bactria got possession of the king, 
and put him to death before he reached Bactria. The 
satrap hoped to establish an independent power 
there, 5 but without success. Though Alexander at 

i Behist. 2, 1416 ; 3, 1012. Herod. 7, 64, 82 ; 9, 113. 

3 Herod. 8, 93. * Diod. 11, 69; Ctes. Pers. eel. 31. 

5 Arrian, "Anab." 3, 21. 

*? ! \-<TERN IRAN. 

first overcame the Bactrians, who were astonished at 
his rapid approach, he soon found a stubborn resistance 
in Sogdiana and Bactria, which occupied him for two 
years. 1 Not till then could he make his preparations 
in Bactria for the invasion of India, and collect at 
Bactra the army intended for the subjugation of that 
country, in order to pass over the Hindu Kush into 
the valley of the Cabul. 

In the contests which the successors of Alexander 
carried on for the supremacy after his death, the 
valley of the Euphrates and Tigris, and the table-land 
of Iran, finally fell to the lot of Seleucus. But in 
the middle of the third century (256 B.C.), Arsaces in 
Parthia and the satrap Diodotus in Bactria rebelled 
against the second successor, Antiochus Theos. The 
descendants of Arsaces not only succeeded in main- 
taining their independence against the Seleucids, in 
spite of severe reverses, but Mithridates I., the sixth 
Arsacid (174 136 B.C.), united all Iran under his 
dominion. The Greeks lost their supremacy, and Iran 
again became subject to native princes. 

Meanwhile Diodotus had founded an independent 
supremacy in Bactria. His son, of the same name, was 
succeeded by Euthydemus, against whom, towards the 
year 200 B.C., Antiochus III. marched, in order to force 
Bactria to submission. Euthydemus was defeated at 
the river Areios (p. 10), and fled to Zariaspa. By 
the surrender of his elephants he obtained an estab- 
lished recognition from Antiochus. Demetrius and 
Eucratides, the successors of Euthydemus (after 180 
B.C.), extended the sphere of their dominion to the 
east over the land on the Cabul to the Indus. The 
kingdom of Chandragupta, Vindusara, and A9oka, which, 
as we know, included the east of Iran, and has left 

1 Arrian, toe. cit. 3, 29. 


us inscriptions at Peshawur (IV. 525), fell to pieces 
under Ac,oka's grandsons. Apollodorus of Artemita 
told us above that the fertility of the Bactrian soil 
enabled the Greek rulers to make important conquests 
(p. 12); he informs us that Eucratides founded the 
city of Eucratideia in Bactria, and subjugated a 
thousand cities in India. We may assume that Bac- 
tria under these princes was not merely powerful, 
but prosperous. According to the statement of Justin, 
a thousand cities were at that time enumerated in 
Bactria, 1 and we possess satisfactory evidence that 
these rulers and their courts, and the Greek settle- 
ments which Alexander founded in the distant East, 
were able permanently to establish the style and art of 
Hellas. The coins of these princes, who are -designated 
in Greek as "kings," "great," "invincible," rival the 
best work which proceeded from Greek mints. The 
faces present the heads of the princes, in characteristic 
and individual portraits ; the reverses exhibit Heracles, 
Athena, Apollo with a crown of rays, the Dioscuri on 
horseback, lance in hand. But by degrees the national 
types of the East are again employed on these coins. 
The reverse presents the galloping horse, the animal of 
Bactria, the elephant, and the humped ox. 2 The head 
of Demetrius, who first conquered territory in India, 
and that of some of his descendants, is covered by a 
helmet adorned with the tusks and trunk of an 
elephant. Besides the round, numbers of rectangular 
coins have also been found, from which we can dis- 
cover the native traditional form of the Bactrian coinage. 

1 Justin. 41, 4. 

8 As was shown in Vol. IV. p. 278, the Vishnu Purana represents the 
sacrificial horse of Pushpamitra, who sat on the throne of Magadha 
between 178 and H2 B.C. (Vol. IV. p. 550), to have been carried off by 
an army of Yavanas on the right bank of the Indus, and then restored. 
The dominion of the Graeco-Bactrian princes in the East existed from 
200 to 150 B.C. 


After the reign of Eucratides these rectangular coins 
present on one side Greek inscriptions, which are 
repeated in other characters on the reverse. To the 
inscriptions of king A9oka at Kapur-i-Giri, and to 
these coins, together with those of the Grseco- Indian 
kings, and some later coins belonging to the Arsacids 
and the Indo-Scythian princes, we owe the information 
that the east of Iran possessed a peculiar alphabet and 
mode of writing, while the Modes and Persians of the 
west borrowed their earliest letters from the Assyrio- 
Babylonian cuneiform writing, and afterwards, from 
about the fourth century B.C., adopted the cursive 
character of the Aramaeans. 

Although, as we may conclude from these indications, 
the Greek sovereigns of Bactria resolved to pay a 
certain respect to the civilisation of their subjects, 
their kingdom was short-lived. The nations of the 
steppes of the Oxus, themselves under pressure, began 
to advance to the south (after 160 B.C.); in the west 
the Parthians rose into Mithridates I. of Par- 
rhia incorporated Bactria in his kingdom about 140 
B.C., and Bactria subsequently became a part of the 
Parthian empire. Heliocles, the son of Eucratides, was 
thus limited to the land of the Cabul and Indus, but 
on the borders of India the power and influence of the 
Greeks remained unbroken. Greek captains Memui- 
der, and after him Apollodotus, who had previously 
no doubt been subject to the Bactrians -- issued 
from the southern slope of the Hindu Kush in the 
last decades of the second century B.C., and conquered 
the land of the Indus as far as the mouth of the river, 
and the Panjab. They advanced to the Yamuna, and 
reduced Surashtra (Guzerat) and Cashmere to de- 
pendence. Even at the end of the first century B.C. 
coins of these princes were current on the coast of 


Surashtra, and they are still found on the banks ot 
the Yamuna. 1 

On the western coast of India, from the Gulf of 
Cambay to Bombay, we find from one hundred to one 
hundred and fifty thousand families whose ancestors 
migrated thither from Iran. The tradition among them 
is, that at the time when the Arabs, after conquering 
Iran and becoming sovereigns there, persecuted and 
eradicated the old religion, faithful adherents of the 
creed fled to the mountains of Kerman. Driven from 
these by the Arabs (in Kerman and Yezd a few 
hundred families are still found who maintain the 
ancient faith 2 ), they retired to the island of Hormuz 
(a small island close by the southern coast, at the 
entrance to the Persian Gulf). From hence they 
migrated to Din (on the coast of Guzerat), and then 
passed over to the opposite shore. In the neighbour 
hood of Bombay and in the south of India inscriptions 
have been found which prove that these settlers reached 
the coast in the tenth century of our era. 3 At the 
present time their descendants form a considerable 
part of the population of Surat, Bombay, and Ahrna- 
dabad ; they call themselves, after their ancient home, 
Parsees, and speak the later Middle Persian (the 
Parsee, p. 17). Their worship and life they regulate 
by the rules given in certain scriptures which they 
brought with them from their ancient home. These 

1 Strabo, p. 516. I need not prove that 'l^dvrjc must be read hero 
for 'Iffu'/ioc, or that Zapaoirrov irapaXia is Surashtra; cf. Wilson, 
"Ariana antiq." p. 281. Apollodotus, Apaladata on the Arian 
legends of his coins, is no doubt the Bhagadatta of the Mahabharata, 
just as the Dattamitra there mentioned is Demetrius ; Vol. IV. p. 80, 
. Among the Indians Menander appears in the form Miliuda. 

* In the year 1843 there were about 1000 Guebre families in Yezd, 
and a hundred in Kerman. Westergaard, " Avesta," 1,21: the perse- 
cution of 1848 considerably reduced their numbers. 

3 llaug, " Puhlavi-Pazoud Glossary,'' pp. 80, 81 


are fragments of a much larger whole, part of a book 
of law, and a collection of sacrificial songs and 
prayers. The Parsees no longer speak or understand 
the language of these scriptures (the Avesta), and 
even the priests, who use them every day, ascertain 
the meaning througli an accompanying translation into 
the later language. 

That these scriptures arose ^in the east of Iron is 
clear from the language of the Avesta. It exhibits a 
close relationship with the forms of the Veda and 
Sanskrit, the ancient language of the Arians in India. 
If, on the other hand, we compare the language of the 
Avesta with the ancient language of Western Iran as 
we possess it in the inscriptions of the Achaemeiiids, 
we find that both are merely different dialects of one 
language, but they differ in such a manner that the 
language of the inscriptions of Darius and Xerxes is 
less closely, connected with Sanskrit than the language 
of the Avesta. This language then we may regard as 
the ancient speech of Eastern Iran, and this assump- 
tion is raised into evidence by the contents of the 
Avesta. These prove that the Avesta arose in the 
east of Iran, with even greater certainty than the 
songs of the Rigveda prove that that collection arose 
in the land of the Indus and the Panjab. The Avesta 
entirely ignores the west of Iran. No mention is 
made of Ecbatana and Pasargadaa, the abode of the 
Median and the Persian kings, though they reigned over 
the whole of Iran and Hither Asia ; nor even of the 
nations of the west, the Medes and Persians. It 
speaks of the land of the seven streams, '. e. India 
(IV. 12), and the heat which prevails in that land; 1 
it mentions the beautiful Harahvaiti (Arachosia) and 
Haetumat (afterwards Sejestan 2 ): the latter is extollod 
1 " Vendid. 1," 7376. 2 "Vendid." 1, 46. 


as a beaming, glowing, brilliant country. 1 The know- 
ledge of the Avesta is most accurate in the north- 
east. Here we find Airyana Vaeja, i. e. home or canton 
of the Airy as, 2 Qughdha (Sogdiana), Bakhdhi (Baktra), 
Mouru (Margiana, Merv 3 ), Ni9a, between Bakhdhi 
and Mouru, Haraeva (Haraiva in the inscriptions ; 
Herat, the land of the Areians), and Vehrkana, i. e. 
land of wolves (Hyrcania). 4 The furthest point known 
to the west is Kagha in Media, which, according 
to the Avesta, consists of three citadels or tribes. 5 
These statements carry us very distinctly to the east 
of Iran, the region from Ragha to the Indus. Mouru 
is "the high," "the holy," and Bakhdhi's "high 
banner" is extolled. In this way this city was no 
doubt marked out as the seat of an important dominion, 
the centre of a kingdom. 

If we might assume that in these fragments of the 
sacred books of the Parsees we have not only the 
ancient language, but also the ancient religion of 
Eastern Iran before us, we might also hope that we 
should meet in them with remnants of the tradition, 
with native accounts of the fortunes of the country, 
enabling us to supplement the scanty information 
which we could glean from the inscriptions of the 
Assyrians and Darius, and the accounts of Western 
writers. Leaving out of sight for the present the 

1 "Vendid." 19, 130; 1,50. 

2 Burnouf, " Jour. Asiat." 1845, pp. 287, 288. It seems to me doubtful 
whether we should look for Airyana Vaeja on the sources of the Oxus. 
The statement in the Bundehesh that : Airy ana Vaeja was situated beside 
Atropatene is, however, of very little weight against the fact that the 
Ariaus of East Iran are nearest to the Arians of India. I shall return 
to this point below. The remark in Stephanus, "'Aptavia. a nation 
among the Cadusians," would be of some importance if it were 
taken from Apollodorus of Artemita, and not from the grammarian of 
that name. The district of Arran on tho Kur may possibly bo meant. 

3 " Vendid." 1, 1418. " Vendid." 1, 30, 42. 
5 "Vendid." 1, GO. 


question, At what period did these writings come 
iiito existence ? we may collect what we can find in 
them on the early history of Iran. 

In the Avesta the god Haoma says, Vivanghana 
was the first who crushed out the juice of the Haoma. 
As a reward there was born to him the brilliant Yima, 
the lord of the nations, the most famous of all who 
have seen the sun. While Yima Kshaeta (Yima the 
king) reigned there was neither cold nor excessive 
heat, neither age nor death, nor envy, caused by the 
evil spirits : fathers and sons equally had the vigour 
of men of fifty years. Yima caused the means of 
support for mankind to be inexhaustible ; he liberated 
the waters and trees from drought, and the herds from 
death. 1 In an invocation to the goddess Ardvi^ura, 
the giver of water, to whom Yima sacrifices a hundred 
horses, a thousand oxen, and ten thousand head of 
small cattle on Hukairya, the summit of the divine 
mountain, he prays, " Grant to me, Saviour Ardviura, 
that I may be the sovereign of all lauds, that I may 
carry away from the Daevas (the evil spirits) increase 
and health, fodder and herds, joy and glory." To the 
goddess Ashi vanguhi, Yima also offers a prayer " that 
he may bring food and flocks to the creatures of Mazda, 
and immortality, and may remove hunger and thirst, 
age and death, the hot wind and the cold from the 
creatures of Mazda for a thousand years." And the 
morning wind, Vayu, is entreated that " Yima may be 
the most merciful of all creatures, and that under his 
dominion he may make cattle and mankind immortal, 
that the waters and trees may never dry up and 
wither." In the fragments of the book of the law in 
the Avesta, Zarathrustra inquires of Auramazda to 
whom he (the god) had first revealed the true doctrine. 
1 "Yasna,"9, 4. 


Auramazda answers, " I spoke first with Yima, the 
excellent one. I said to him, Yima, thou beautiful 
son of Vivanghana, be thou the preacher and bearer 
of my doctrine. But Yima answered, I am not 
fitted to be the preacher of the doctrine. Then I, 
Auramazda, spoke and said, If thou wilt not obey me, 
Yima, to be the bearer of my law, yet make my world 
fruitful ; be the keeper of my earthly creatures, their 
protector and lord. And Yima, the excellent one, 
answered, I will cause thy creatures to prosper and 
increase ; I will be the keeper, protector, and lord 
of them. Therefore I, Auramazda, gave to him two 
instruments, a golden staff and an ox goad adorned 
with gold, and three hundred years passed by. And 
the land was full of herds and beasts of draught, of 
men, and dogs, and birds, and red flaming fires. And 
there was no more any room for the flocks, and men, 
and beasts of draught. Then I warned Yima : 
Yima, excellent one, son of Vivanghana, there is no 
more any room for the herds, and beasts of draught, 
and men. And Yima went forth to meet the stars 
and the path of the sun (i. e. towards the east). He 
struck with the golden staff upon the earth, and smote 
it with the goad, and said, Qpenta Armaiti (0 holy 
earth), arise, part thyself asunder, thou bearer of 
animals and of men. And Yima pushed the earth 
asunder so that it was a third part greater than before. 
Then the flocks found a home, the beasts of draught, 
and men, according to their wish and desire." Again 
three hundred years passed, and there was no more 
any room for herds, beasts, and men ; and at Aura- 
mazda's command Yima again caused the earth to 
stretch asunder, and it became two-thirds greater 
than before ; and after another three hundred years 
Yima caused the earth to become as large again as 

VOL. V. D 


before. 1 Then a thousand years passed, and Auramazda 
said to Yima, " Bitter cold and sharp frost will fall upon 
the earth, and the snow will lie deep on the summits 
of the mountains and in the clefts of the valleys. Make 
an enclosure (vara) of the length of a horse's course on 
each of the four sides. Bring into it a stock of herds 
and beasts of draught, of men and dogs, and birds and 
red flaming fires, and make the enclosure to be a 
dwelling for men and a stall for the cattle. Carry 
water thither, and build houses and tombs, and a fortifi- 
cation and palisade round about, and drive them with 
the golden staff into the citadel, and shut to the door. 
And Yima made a citadel of the length of a horse's 
course. Thither he brought a stock of all men and 
women who were the tallest, best, and most beautiful 
of earth, and a brood of all animals which were largest, 
best, and most beautiful, and the seeds of all fruits and 
growths which were best and most beautiful. And he 
provided that a pair were ever together. There was no 
evil speaking there, nor strife, nor injury, nor decep- 
tion, nor meanness ; nothing crooked, no mal-formation 
of teeth, no crippled form, nor any other of the signs 
which are the signs of Angromainyu. In this enclosure 
which Yima made men lived the happiest life. A 
year was a day, and every forty years two children, 
a mole and a female, were born from each pair of 
human creatures, and so also of each kind of animal." 2 
In an invocation in the Avesta we are told that 
the bright gleaming majesty in the form of the bird 
Varaghna had passed from Yima when he began to 
love lying speech. Yima fell terrified to earth, and 
Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, seized the majesty. 

1 " Vendid."2, 121, after Karl Geldner's translation. [Cf. Darmes- 
tcter's translation in M. Miiller's ' Sacred Books of the East,' VoL IV.J 
8 " Vendid." 2, 2143. 


When it passed a second time from Yima, Thraetaona 
seized it, and when it passed a third time, Kere9acpa 
seized it. 

The second who crushed the juice of the Haoma 
was Athvvya. Hence there was born to him a son, 
Thraetaona, in the land of Varena. The evil spirit 
Augromainyu had created a wicked being, " with 
three heads, three throats, six eyes, and a thousand 
strengths" the Azhi dahaka, i.e. the biting serpent, 
which swallowed horses and men, and threatened to 
desolate the world. But Thraetaona sacrificed a hun- 
dred horses to Ardvigura, a thousand oxen, and ten 
thousand head of small cattle, and called on the 
goddess, and with bound bundle of rods, on Vayu 
on his golden throne, with golden footstool and 
golden canopy, to grant that he might smite the strong 
l)ruj, which Angromainyu had created as the strongest 
to bring death upon the pure world ; and he overcame 
the monster, because Verethraghna was with him, the 
most victorious of mortals. 1 And Thraetaona obtained 
the splendour of the dominion when it departed a 
second time from Yima. In the prayers of the Avesta, 
Thraetaoua, who has slain the great serpent, is invoked 
as helper against the "pain which is caused by the 
serpent," against fever and sickness. 2 

The third who crushed the juice of the Haoma for 
the sacrifice was Thrita, of the race of Qama. Thrita 
was the first who by skill in medicine kept back sick- 
ness and death from the bodies of men. He wished for 
means to withstand the pains, the sickness, the death, 
the hot and cold fever which Angromainyu had created 
for the bodies of men. " Then I, Auramazda, caused 
healing plants to grow by hundreds, by thousands, 

1 "Aban Yasht," 9; "Farvardin Yasht, ' 131; "Bahrain Yasht," 
40 ; " Bain Yasht," 23. 2 " Farvardin Yasht," 131 ff, 

D 2 


by tens of thousands around the oneGaokerena." And 
in reward for his offering of Haoma two sons were 
born to Thrita Urvakshaya, who put in order the law, 
and Kerea5pa (i.e. having slim horses), the youth 
of beautiful form, the bearer of the weapon Gae9u. i 
Kerea9pa smote the poisonous green serpent Qruvara, 
on which flowed poison to the thickness of a thumb, 
and it swallowed men and horses. Afterwards, after 
he had sacrificed to Ardvicura on the shore of Lake 
Pi9ano (i.e., no doubt, in the valley of Pishin in Sejes- 
tan), he smote the giant Gandarewa, who dwelt in Lake 
Vourukasha, and the descendants of the nine robbers, 
and Qnavidhaka, who had attempted to overcome 
Auramazda and Angromainyu. And when his brother 
Urvakshaya had been slain by, Kere9a9pa 
besought the wind, who works on high, to grant to 
him to slay Hita9pa in revenge for the death of his 
brother. And he conquered him, and yoked him to 
his chariot. When for the third time the majesty 
departed from Yiina, KereQa9pa seized it, the strongest 
of men after Zarathrustra. In the prayers of the 
Avesta, Kere9a9pa's help is invoked against robbers 
and hostile hosts. 2 

Yima, Thraetaona, Kerec.a9pa, and the forms which 
are genealogically connected with them, Vivanghana, 
Athwya, Qama, Thrita, and Urvakshaya, are collected 
by the Avesta under the name Paradhata, i. e. those 
who first exercised dominion. 3 Indications in our 
fragments show that other names were also included 


1 "Yacna," 9, 30; " Vendid." 20, 11 ff. 

8 "Vendid." 20; " Yacna," 9, 32, 39; "Earn Yasht," 7, 28; 
" Farvardin Yasht," 136 ; " Zamyad Yasht," 41 ff. According to the 
" Mainyo-i-Khard," Kerecac,pa, besides slaying the serpent (,'ruvar, 
slow the wolf Kapod, the water demon Gandarsi, the bird Kumak, and 
kept back much oppression from the world. West, "Mainyo-i- 
Khard," c. 27. 3 Justi, "Handbuch," . roc. 


in them. Thraetaona's son was Airyu, and Airyu's son 
was Mamischithra. 1 These most ancient sovereigns were 
followed by a second group, whose distinguishing mark 
is the surname Kava. The first of these Kavas, whom 
the Avesta mentions merely as the wearer of the 
divine majesty, is Kava Kavata. 2 He is succeeded by 
the agile, brilliant Kava Uga, who sacrifices to Ard- 
vi^ura on Mount Erezifya in order to obtain the 
dominion over all lands, overDaevas and men, wizards 
and Pairikas, and this favour the goddess granted him. 
After U9a the royal majesty united itself, to use the 
phrase in the Avesta, with the beautiful pure body of 
Kava Qyavarshana. He died by a violent death. 3 
1 1 is son was Kava Hurava, "the brave uniter of the 
Arian lands into one kingdom," as the Avesta tells us, 
which then goes on to relate that he was without sickness 
or death. He had to contend against the destructive 
Franghracianas, the Turanians (turn, tuirya). He be- 
sought Ardvicura that it " might be granted to him to 
put an end to the long dimness, and bind the Frang- 
hraianas in their abundance and pride." This prayer 
the goddess granted. Haoma himself desired "to bind 
the destructive, murderous Frangh radian a and carry 
him away as a captive of the king Hurava, and that 
Kava Hu9rava should slay him behind the lake Chae- 
chata, the deep lake with broad waters." 4 Kava 
Hurava was followed by king Aurvata9pa, the son of 
Naotara, the son of Manuschithra, the son of Airyu ; 
and Aurvatagpa was succeeded by his son the strong 
and warlike Vistac,pa. 5 Of the twenty-nine sons of this 

1 " Farvardin Yasht," 131. 

2 " Farvavdin Yasht," 132 ; "Zamyad Yasht," 71. 

3 " Gosh Yasht," 18; "Ashi Yasht," 38. 

4 "Aban Yasht," 49; "Gosh Yasht," 18 ; " Ashi Yasht," 38 ; " Afrin 
Zartusht," 7 ; " Zamyad Yasht," 77 ; " Ram Yasht," 32. 

6 " Aban Yasht," 76, 98 ; " Ashi Yasht," 46 ; " Farvardin Yasht," 
102 ; " Earn Yasht," 36. 



king, the Avesta mentions the strong Qpentodata. and 
informs us that Frashaostra and his brother Jama9pa, 
of the race of Hvova, were men of importance with the 
king. Like HuQrava, Vista9pa had to contend with a 
Turanian, Arejata9pa, i. e. the winner of horses, who 
sacrificed to Ardvi9ura in order to obtain the victory 
over Kava Vista9pa and the warrior on horseback, 
Zarivairi (the brother of Vista9pa). The goddess heard 
him not, but heard Vistagpa when he sacrificed to her 
behind the water of Frazdana, in order to overcome 
the hostile Arejata9pa, born of darkness, skilled in 
evil, who sought to smite the lands of the Arians. 1 
But Zarathrustra, the son of Pourushacpa, of the 
race of Haechata9pa, sacrificed to Ardvi9ura that 
he might unite with the mighty Vista9pa, the son of 
Aurvatacpa, and to Drva9pa, " that he might unite 
with Hutao9a, and she might impress on his memory 
the good law." 2 Zarathrustra proclaimed a new 
law, the law of Auramazda. The heroes and kings 
before him were known in the Avesta by the name 
Paoiryotkacsha, i. e. the men of the earliest custom, 
the earliest law. 

These are all the traits and pictures of the anti- 
quity of East Iran, of any importance, which can be 
gathered from the remaining fragments of the Avesta. 
Of the antiquity and genuineness of the narrative 
there is no doubt. The close relationship and coinci- 
dence which they exhibit with the form and views of 
the Veda are proved on both sides. As we saw, the 
Veda distinguishes the sacrificers and sages of the 
ancient time, the earlier time, and the present (IV. 29.) 

1 " Aban Yasht," 109, 117 ; " Farvardin Yasht," 38 ; " Gosh Yasht," 
29, 30 ; " Ashi Yaslit," 50, 81 ; " Zamyad Yasht," 87. 

*"Aban Yasht," 104 106; "Farvardin Yasht," 142; "Gosh 
Yasht," 26 ; " Bam Yasht," 36. 


The god Haoma is the well-known god Soma of the 
Arians in India, the variation in the name being due to 
the change of sounds which distinguishes the Old Bac- 
trian from the language of the Veda. Here, as there, 
he is the sacrificial libation, and at the same time the 
god who pours the libation, and is its power. The great 
heroes Yim:i, Thraetaoua, Kere^aypa and Zarathrustra 
were born to their fathers as a reward for offering the 
libation of Soma. King Yima (Yima Kshaeta) in the 
Avesta is no other than the Yama (Yama Rajan) of the 
Veda. Yama is the son of Vivasvat, the brilliant, the 
shining, the giver of light ; and in the Avesta Yima is 
the son of Vivanghana. In the Veda he is the assembler 
of the people, the first king, the first mortal who shows 
to men the way which leads from the depths to the 
height of heaven ; who first experiences death, but 
returns into heaven as the son of the god of light, 
where he gathers round him the brave and pious for 
new life in imperishable joy (IV. 61). Yima is also the 
assembler of men, the first king ; he rules with the 
golden staff; he founds the religious worship, a merit 
which in the Veda belongs to Manu. Under Yima the 
earth is filled with red-glowing fires ; he worships Vayu 
and Ardvi9ura. He is the representative of the 
golden age ; in his reign there is neither heat nor cold, 
age nor death, hate nor strife : and his dominion 


continues a thousand years. It was the first happy 
period of the world, which men passed under the 
dominion of the son of the god of light. At what an 
elevation Yima must have been placed in the oldest 
form of the my thus of East Iran is clear from the 
fact that creative acts and the triple extension of the 
earth are ascribed to him. After the close of this 
golden period, winter comes upon the earth, heat and 
cold, strife, sickness, and death. The happy life of 


the golden age only continues within certain limits, in 
the enclosure of Yima, where he carries on the blessed 
and immortal life with selected men, trees, animals, and 
food. Here Yiina is to live till the end of all things, 
when his companions will again people the earth. As 
in this garden of Yima the sun, moon, and stars shine 
together, 1 it must be sought in the sky, or at any rate 
on the bright, divine mountain Hukairya, where there 
is neither night nor gloom, and which is at the same 
time described as Yima's place of sacrifice. 

If the Indians have placed the old Arian legend of 
a golden age on earth in the days of Yima's reign, 
they have also, after their manner, depicted his hea- 
venly kingdom with brighter colours, while among the 
Iranians this part of the legend is combined with the 
heavenly garden into which Yima receives the men he 
has selected as the best. Nevertheless, a reminiscence 
of Yima's garden has remained beyond the Indus in 
the story of the Uttara Kurus, who dwell beyond the 
holy mountains to the north. 2 . 

The most striking variation from the common Ariau 
myth in the Avesta is the statement that Yima is 
subordinate to a deity, Auramazda, of whom the Arians 
of India knew nothing. The old legend is thus brought 
within the sphere of new views, which must have exer- 

1 " Vendid." 2, 39, 40. 

2 VoL IV. 21 n. Spiegel, " Avesta," 3, Einl. s. 58. The favourite 
comparison of the enclosure of Yima with the deluge of the Hebrews 
appears to me anything but apposite. Iran, and still more Bactria, is 
unsuited to give rise to the legend of a flood. Nor is there any ques- 
tion of the destruction of evil men (if there had been, Yima would have 
been the most guilty and the least deserving of pardon), but of the end 
of the golden age, as is shown in the Vendidad, the Yac,na, and the 
Yashts : the earth becomes more thickly peopled, men and animals do 
not grow old or die. If we must bring together things which have 
really no relation to each other, it would be more apposite to compare 
the paradise of the Hebrews. The reason for the end of the golden age 
is the guilt of Yima. [Cf. Kuenen, " Religion of Israel," 3, c, 9, E. T.] 


ciscd still further influence upon it. It is Auramazda 
who places in the hand of Yima the control, superin- 
tendence, and protection of animals and men. It is 
not through Yima's own desire, as was certainly the 
case in the old legend, but at Auramazda's bidding, 
that the enclosure is made, and the selected men, 
animals, and trees brought into it. The main reason 
for this change was the necessity of giving an answer 
to the question, Why did not the golden age con- 
tinue? and if, long after Yima, Zarathrustra proclaimed 
a new and better law, why had not Auramazda revealed 
this law to the favoured Yima ? In order to answer 
this riddle, the Avesta represents Auramazda as asking 
Yima to become " the preacher and bearer of his 
doctrine," and Yima refuses to accept this mission. 
Hence Yima becomes guilty of a fault, and a reason is 
given why the golden age, the thousand years of the 
reign of Yima, came to an end. Without the good 
doctrine, the invasion of evil spirits, and with them 
of heat and cold, sickness and death, strife and blight, 
could not be kept back from the earth. This trait of 
the guilt of Yima, which is entirely unknown to the 
earlier legend, is carried out still further. Accord- 
ing to the prayer in the Avesta (p. 34) blessing and 
immortality continued in the kingdom of Yima, " till he 
began to love lying speech." When he had rejected 
Auramazda's law he cannot himself resist the seduction 
of evil spirits. The first offence brings on the second, 
and this causes the triple loss of majesty, which at 
length ends in the fall and violent death of Yima, an 
incident already indicated in the Avesta. 1 How this 
form of the legend allowed the garden of Yima to be 
placed on the divine mountain, and whether the 

1 " Zamyad Yaskt," 46. 


contradiction was removed or not, our fragments do 
not enable us to decide. 

In the Veda it was Indra who had to contend 
against Vritra and Ahi, i. e. the serpent 5 *, and the 
black spirits, which desired to drink up the water of the 
sky and veil its light. In Iran, as we shall see, this 
office is transferred to other spirits, and also to Thrae- 
taona. The Azhi dahaka of the Avesta is the Ahi 
of the Veda. Ahi and Azhi are the same word, with 
the same meaning ; the addition dahaka refers to the 
destructive power of this demon. Verethraghna, i. c. 
the slayer of Vritra, stands in the Avesta at the side 
of Thraetaona in his struggle with Azhi (p. 35), and 
the morning wind supports him just as in the Veda 
the winds assist Indra against Ahi and Vritra. Among 
the Indians, Traitaua is a spirit of the air, who 
dwells in the remotest regions of the sky, who hews 
off the head of a giant from his shoulders, and in the 
Veda, Trita, the son of Aptya, drinks the draught of 
Soma, in order to win strength for the slaying of 
Vritra ; he slays the snake with three heads and seven 
tails ; with his iron club he splits the hollows in the 
rock in which the demons have hidden the cows of the 
heaven (the rain clouds). 1 In the Veda, Aptya is the 
father of Trita ; in the Avesta, Athwya is the father 
of Thraetaona. Of Trita, whom it represents as sprung 
from Qama, the Avesta declares that he was the first 
physician ; in the Veda we are told of Trita he knew 
how to heal sickness as the gods had taken his sickness 
from him ; that he bestowed long life. 2 The two 
figures of Trita and Traitana gradually unite in the 

1 "Rigveda," 1,158; 10, 8,5. 

1 Wostergaard in Weber's " Ind. Studien," 3, 413 ff., 426 ff. Kunn 
combines Trita with Triton and Tritogeneia ; Hofer's " Zeitschrift," 1, 
27(5, 289. 


Veda ; in the Avesta, Thrita and Thraetaona remain 
separate persons. The Kere9acpa of the Avesta seems 
to correspond to the Kriacva of the Indians, whom we 
first find in the Epos, where he is celebrated as a 
warlike RishL 1 

If the Paradhatas, Yima, Athwya, Thraetaona, 
Thrita, and Kere9acpa in the original conception are 
spirits of the sky, if the monsters with which Thrae- 
taona and struggle are not to be sought 
on earth but in the heavens, if in these dragons 
we find once more the cloud-serpents, against which 
Indra and his company have to contend we do not at 
once set foot upon earth, when we come to the Kava- 
nians. According to the later tradition of Iran, Kava 
Kavata was fetched from the divine mountain in order 
to reign over the country ; two white falcons bring 
him a golden crown. The Rigveda mentions Kavya 
lianas, i. e. U^anas, the son of Kavi, who brings the 
cows of the sky, i. e. the clouds, to the pasture. 2 In 
the Avesta, Kava U^a sacrifices not only to rule over 
the whole earth but also over the spirits. According 
to a later tradition this sovereign now called Kai 
Kaus causes beautiful castles to be built on the divine 
mountain by the demons, and is then carried by four 
eagles into heaven. Kava Hu9rava, for whom in the 
Avesta the god Haoma contends, is without sickness 
and death (p. 37). In the later tradition, in which he is 
known as Kai Chosru, he begins a pilgrimage to heaven 
after conquering and slaying his opponent the Turanian 
Franghac.iana, like the sons of Pandu in the Mahabha- 
rata after their victory over the Kurus and their happy 
reign. Like them also, Kai Chosru climbs the mountains 
and disappears from his companions at a well. Against 

' Haug, "Essays," pp. 235, 236. 

s Kulin, "Beitrage," 4, 44; Haug, " Essays," pp. 235, 236. 


his command they seek him in the mountains, and are 
all buried in a groat snow-storm. From the name 
Manuschithra (p. 37), i. e. scion of Manu, we may 
conclude that the twin brother of Yama, " father 
Manu," was not unknown to the Arians of Iran. 
But the genealogy in which the Avesta has preserved 
these names has no greater claims to historical value 
than the figures which have passed in review before us. 
Airyu is the son of Thraetaona ; i. e. from the mightiest 
hero, the slayer of the great dragon, are sprung the 
sovereigns and the nation of the Airyas ; the son of 
Airyu is Manuschithra ; from whose son, Naotara, 
are derived the two last Kavas, Aurvata9pa and 

If the coincidence of the forms from Yima to 
Kava Ilu^rava with the Veda is a proof of the 
antiquity and genuineness of the tradition of the 
Avesta, the gain for history becomes less instead of 
greater. No one would take mythical persons for 
historical. Yet the style and form in which we 
find these traditional statements in the fragments of 
the Avesta supply certain guides for the lost history 
of Eastern Iran. The splendour of the royal majesty 
is so often and so distinctly brought into prominence, 
that the conclusion forces itself upon us, that the 
regions in which the Avesta arose, i. e. the north-east 
of Iran, must have been acquainted with a powerful 
and highly-respected monarchy. The ancient spirits 
of the sky are changed in the Avesta into mighty 
warriors and far-ruling kings, a circumstance in favour 
of the supposition that an empire once existed here, the 
image of which is reflected on prehistoric times. It is 
in Epic poems that the spirits of the first sky become 
heroes, and Epic poetry only arises in and follows on 
periods of war and conflict. The fact that the forms of 


the spirits thus changed into heroes by Epic song are 
turned into the forefathers of the kings and progen- 
itors of the nation, further establishes the conclusion 
tli at a military monarchy must have been in existence 
here ; only warlike princes could appear as the heirs 
of heroes. Moreover, the Avesta extols the high 


banner of Bakhdhi and speaks of the neighbouring 
regions as favoured ; the later tradition of Iran marks 
out Bactria very clearly as the abode of Aurvata9pa 
and Vista9pa ; in the third century B.C. Bactria 
supplied its princes with means not merely to achieve 
their own independence, but to maintain it against 
the great kingdom of the Seleucids and to subjugate 
the land of the Indus (p. 25 ff.) ; and if, in addition to 
these facts, we bear in mind the conceptions found in 
the Median poems of the great power of the kings of 
the Bactrians, their treasures in gold and silver, their 
fortified city, the conquest of which was the greatest 
achievement of Ninus we may venture to assume 
that before the days of the Medes, i. e. before the 
year 650 B.C., there must have existed an important 
monarchy in the north-east of Iran. 

With the assistance of the Avesta we may go 
a step further. We saw that Kava Hugrava no less 
than Vista9pa is represented as fighting against the 
Turas or Tuiryas. Who were these enemies ? In 
Old-Bactrian the word means the enemy, the op- 
pressor. Strabo speaks of a region of Turuia in the 
north of Parthia, towards the steppes of the Oxus. 1 In 
the later tradition of Iran the Turanians are the 
constant and most dangerous enemies of the kings of 
Bactria. The steppes of the Oxus and Jaxartes were 
inhabited by nations to whom the Persians gave the 
collective name of Sacse, while the Greeks called them 

1 Strabo, p. 517. [Topwuai/ is a v. I, for Tairvpiav.] 


Scythians. They found but scanty pasture on the 
steppes, and it was natural that they should look with 
longing eyes on the more fertile regions of Bactria and 
Sogdiana. It has already been mentioned how careful 
Cyrus was to protect these countries, when he had 
conquered them, against the nations of the steppes. 
At a later time, from the middle of the second century 
B.c. downwards (p. 28), we have definite information 
of the pressure of these nations on Parthia, Margiana, 
and Bactria. When freed from the attacks of the 
Seleucids on the west, the Arsacids had to defend the 
east of the kingdom. Phraates II. and Artabanus II. 
fell in battle against the nomads ; Mithridates II. 
succeeded in protecting Parthia, but about the year 100 
B.C. the Sace were able to force a way through 
Bactria. They possessed themselves of the best land 
in the east of Iran, the valleys of the Hilmend (p. 7), 
bequeathed their name to the country (Sikashtan, 
Sejestan), and from the valley of the Cabul ex- 
tended their dominion beyond the Indus. The white 
Huns, or Yuechis, followed the Sacae ; and they also 
reached the Indus. Is there any reason to doubt the 
A vesta that even before the Medes and Cyrus the 
princes of Bactria and Sogdiana were occupied with 
beating back the tribes of the steppes ? 

In ancient times, as Strabo tells us, the Bactrians 
and Sogdiani were little removed from wandering 
shepherds. The A vesta exhibits them in close con- 
nection with horses. The names compounded with aqpa 
(horse) are common ; Kerea5pa, Aurvatapa, Vistapa, 
Haechatapc,a, Jama^pa, Pourusha9pa. Of Zaria9pa and 
the Zaria9pians we have already spoken. The most 
important source of wealth must have consisted in 
horses, for which the mountains supplied ample pas- 
ture. The horse-sacrifice is the chief sacrifice of the 


A vesta. One hundred horses were equal to 1000 
oxen, and 10,000 head of small cattle. We found 
that Bactria could furnish the last Darius with 30,000 
cavalry, and the horse was the symbol of Bactria on 
the coins of the Greek princes of the land (p. 27). 

From all these indications we may assume that when 
the Arians had settled in Margiana, Bactria, and Sog- 
diana, and agriculture became of importance beside 
the breeding of cattle, the necessity of protection 
against the migratory tribes of the endless plains 
stretching to the north, created among the Arians a 
warlike nobility who took upon themselves the duty 
of defence. The valley of the Zarefshan (Sogdiana), the 
terrace of Bactria, the region of Merv, became in the 
hands of the Ariaiis advanced posts of civilisation in 
the desert. If Western Iran was protected in the north 
by the Alps of Aderbeijan and the Caspian Sea against 
attacks from that quarter, Eastern Iran lay open to 
the nomads of the steppes, and had nothing but arms 
to defend its cultivated lands. We have already seen 
that Bactria even in the sixth century had passed 
beyond the earliest stages of civilisation (p. 24). But 
even a less degree of prosperity was sufficient to excite 
the sons of the desert to invasion. Hence we may 
assume that the incursions and raids of the nomads of 
the steppes began with the increase of the flocks and 
the prosperity of agriculture in the valleys of Merv, 
Bactria, and Sogdiana. The increasing severity of these 
attacks compelled the Bactrian soldiery to collect their 
forces for more successful resistance, arid to place the 
best warriors at the head of the community. Thus it 
was not by spontaneous development, but rather by 
the opposition to the nations of the steppes, that the 
north-east of Iran first outgrew the tribal life, and 
became transformed into a larger state. Of this king- 


dom and Vistacpa became the rulers ; in 
the Avesta they are distinguished from the Paradhatas 
and from Kava Kavata, Kava U^a, and Kava Hucjava, 
by a new addition to the name and other peculiar 
traits, and form a third group. The progress of our 
investigation will show that the formation of this 
Bactrian kingdom cannot be placed later than 1100 
B.c. ; the date of Vistacpa must be put about 1000 
B.C., and it was the successors of Vista9pa who sent to 
Shalmanesar II. the tribute of camels with two humps, 
and yaks (about 850 B.C.), who found themselves 
menaced once more by the advances of Tiglath Pilesar 
II. to Arachosia in the year 745 B.C., and at length 
succumbed to Cyrus. We shall find that this kingdom 
was not without its warlike races and priestly families, 
that Zaria9pa and Bactria were the centres of it, and 
that the sovereigns attained despotic power. Yet the old 
warlike families must have preserved a certain import- 
ance under the monarchy, unless they regained it when 
lost under the viceroys of the Acluemenids. It was 
the chieftains of the Bactrians whom Alexander sum- 
moned to Zariaypa, and who with the Sogdiani at their 
side took the lead in resistance. The most powerful 
of them stubbornly defended their rocky citadels 
against the Macedonians. 



THE statements of the Avesta concerning the ancient 
rulers of Eastern Iran were proved to be without his- 
torical value, yet we found in them an ancient and 
genuine tradition, the form of which allowed us to draw 
certain conclusions about the political condition of that 
region in a period for which we have no other records 
except the poetry of Western Iran. But what the Avesta 
tells us of the rulers of ancient days is of secondary 
importance for the book, which comprises the doctrines 
and ordinances of the faith proclaimed by Zarathrustra, 
and the rules of life which he is said to have laid 
down. May we assume that we possess these in a 
genuine and unaltered form in the Avesta, though 
they have only come down to us in fragments ? 

A book of the Parsees of India, which tells the story 
of their flight from their ancient home, relates that 
Iskander (Alexander of Macedon) burned the revealed 
scriptures, and the faithful were persecuted for 300 
years. When Ardeshir (the first Sassanid) ascended 
the throne, the true faith was restored, under the 
superintendence of Arda Viraf. After this the true 
religion was again suspended till king Shapur (Shapur 
II.) rose and once more made the faith famous, and Ader- 
bat Mahresfant girded his loins in the good cause. The 
same account is given in the Book of Arda Viraf, also 

[ J Cf. Darmesteter, " Zond- Avesta," Introduction, c. iii. ] 
VOL. v. E 


a book of the Parsees of India. From this we learn 
that the religion received by the pious Zarathrustra 
lasted for 300 years in purity. Then the evil one stirred 
up Iskander Rumi, so that he spread war and devasta- 
tion over Iran, and slew the rulers of the laud. The 
Avesta which was preserved at Stakhar Papakan (Perse- 
polis), written on cow-skins with golden ink, he burned, 
and put to death many priests and judges, pillars of the 
faith, and spread hatred, strife, and confusion among 
the people of Iran. They had now no lord, guide, 
and high priest, who knew their religion ; they were 
full of doubts and had different modes of belief and 
worship of various kinds, and different laws prevailed 
in the world till the time when Ardeshir came to the 
throne and listened to the words of the holy Arda 
Viraf and believed him. But after Ardeshir's death 
a schism broke out, and more than 40,000 souls 
fell away from the true faith, till the day when the 
holy Aderbat Mahresfant arose. 1 An older writing 
of the Parsees, the Dinkart (composed under the 
Sassanids), tells us, apparently on the ground of a 
proclamation of the Sassanid Chosru Parvez (590 
627 A.D.) that king Vista9pa of Bactria had commanded 
that all books which were written in the language of 
the Magians should be collected, in order that the faith 
of the worshippers of Auramazda might have some 
support, and all men were to go to Frashaostra (whom 
the Avesta mentions as a companion of Zarathrustra) 
to be instructed in the faith. And Darai, the son of 
Darai (Darius Hystaspis is meant), commanded that 
two copies of the entire Avesta, precisely as Zara- 
thrustra had received it from Auramazda, should be 
preserved, the one in the treasury at Shapikan, and 
the other in the city of scriptures. Then Valkosh 

1 Haug, " The Book of Arda Viraf," p. 142 ff. 


(Vologeses), the descendant of Ashkan (Arsaces), 
gave orders that so much of the Avesta as had 
escaped destruction and the ravages of Iskander and 
the warriors of Rum, and existed in fragments or 
in oral tradition, should be sought out and brought 
from every city. And king Artakshatr (Ardeshir) 
summoned the Herbedh (i. e. the priest) T Tosar with 
the holy scriptures, which were scattered, to his resid- 
ence, and when Tosar came he gave command to the 
other priests that everything, which differed from that 
which was now considered to be knowledge and 
wisdom, should be suppressed. The son of Artakshatr, 
Shapuhar (241 272 A.D.), the king of kings, gave 
command that all writings on medicine or astronomy 
or other subjects in Hindostan, Rum, and other lands, 
should be collected, and again united with the Avesta, 
and that an exact copy should be deposited in the 
treasury of Shapikan. Lastly Atropat (Aderbat) in 
the reign of Shapuhar (Shapur II, 309 379 A.D.),' 
the son of Auharmazdi, purified the sayings of Zara- 
thrustra and enumerated the Nosks (chapters) of the 
sacred scriptures. 2 

In the rivayats of the Parsees in India, '. <?. in the 
collections of the sayings of the priests on their 
doctrine, we find an enumeration of these sections 
of the scriptures. At each book this list notes how 
many chapters were re-discovered " after Alexander." 
According to this enumeration the scriptures of Iran 
consisted of twenty-one books. 3 The first book con- 
tained the songs of praise to the supreme spirits in 33 
chapters ; the second (22 chapters) treated of good 
works ; the third (22 chapters) of the sacred word ; the 

1 Herbedh is the old Bactrian athrapaiti. 

'* Haug, " Pahlavi-Pazand Glossary," p. 144, 146. 

8 It is found in the so-called " Groat Rivayat." 

E 2 


fourth (21 chapters) of the gods ; the fifth (22 chapters) 
of the earth, of water, of trees, of wild animals ; the 
sixth (35 chapters) of the heavens and the stars ; the 
seventh (22 chapters) of pure and impure kinds of 
food, and of the celebration of the great festivals ; the 
eighth (50 chapters) of the kings and priests, of pure 
and impure animals; the ninth (60 chapters) of the 
laws according to which the kings and judges were to 
give sentence ; the tenth (60 chapters) of virtue and 
wisdom ; the eleventh (60 chapters) of the reign and 
conversion of king Vista^pa ; the twelfth taught agri- 
culture in 22 chapters, the planting of trees, the duty 
of the priests and laity, and treated of the orders ; the 
thirteenth (60 chapters) was occupied with the sacred 
sciences, the teachers and pupils, and the miracles 
which Zarathrustra worked ; the fourteenth book (22 
chapters) spoke of the life of men from birth to 
death ; the fifteenth (17 chapters) contained songs of 
praise ; the sixteenth (54 chapters) laid down rules for 
what was permitted and what was not ; the seven- 
teenth (64 chapters) contained the doctrines of medicine 
and astronomy ; the eighteenth (65 chapters) the 
doctrine respecting animals and their treatment ; the 
nineteenth (52 chapters) contained the civil and 
criminal law ; the twentieth (22 chapters) the rubrics 
for the removal of impurity ; the twenty-first gave in 
30 chapters the history of creation. 1 

According to this list the scriptures of Iran must 
have been of very considerable extent. The Arabian 
author Masudi, who lived about the middle of the 
tenth century A.D., also puts the number of books at 
twenty-one. " Zartusht," he says, " gave the Parsees 
the book which is called the Avesta. It consisted of 

' Vullors, "Fragmonte iibor die Religion Zoroasters," 8. 15 42; 
Haug, "Essays," p. 125. 


twenty-one sections, of which each amounted to 200 
pages. This book was written in the character which 
Zartusht invented and which the Magians call the 
religious character, on 12,000 cow-hides, and these 
were kept together by bands of gold. It was composed 
in the old Persian language, which no one now under- 
stands." 1 From the list of the books and^ chapters it 
is clear that these writings comprised not only the 
religious doctrine and law, together with the rules for 
correct conversation, but also the rubrics for the liturgy 
and ritual. They were at the same time the code of 
criminal and civic law, and in them was deposited 
what was known of medicine and agriculture, and the 
sum total of the science of their authors 

Can we assume that writings of this importance, 
nature, and extent existed in Iran before Alexander of 
Macedou overthrew the kingdom of the Achaemenids ? 
Herodotus tells us that the Magians or priests of the 
Persians recited the theogony, i. e. long poems, at their 
sacrifices. The disciples of the sophist Prodicus are 
said to have asserted that they were in possession of 
writings of Zoroaster, who taught the Persians their 
religion. 2 Hermippus of Smyrna, who wrote in the 
second half of the third century B.C., and devoted 
especial attention to the religions of the east, stated 
that the Magians maintained two principles, a good 
and an evil deity ; the one they called Zeus and Oro- 
masdes, the other Hades and Areimanius. 3 Zoroaster, 
who founded the doctrine of the Magians, had com- 
posed twenty books, each of 100,000 lines, and Her- 

1 Quatremere, " Journ. des Savants," 1840, p. 413. 

2 Clemens Alex. " Strom." p. 598. 

8 Diogen. Laert. prooem. The corrupt passage in Athenseus (p. 478) 
is not a sufficient reason for refusing to accept Hermippus of Smyrna 
as the author of the treatise on the Magians. Pliny could not quote 
the Bcrytian Hermippus. 


mippus gave the contents of the various books and 
quoted regulations from them. Pliny tells us : " The 
doctrine of the Magians prevails to this day among a 
great part of the nations, and in the East is supreme 
over the king of kings " (t. e. the Arsacids) ; and 
vouches for Hermippus that he had written with great 
care about the Magians, 1 from whose work no doubt he 
quotes some particulars of the doctrine of Zoroaster. 
According to Zoroaster's rule the sowing of the fields 
should take place when the moon is in the sign of 
Taurus ; and it was forbidden to expose the person 
before the sun or moon, or to defile a man's shadow. 
Pliny also mentions the precious stones, of which 
Zoroaster had extolled the brilliance ; the herbs, used 
by the Magiaus ; and enumerates a number of reme- 
dies, which they applied. Finally, he speaks of the 
Nyktegertos, a herb growing in Gedrosia, which the 
Magians used when making vows. 2 Philo of Byblus 
quotes a passage, apparently from " the sacred collec- 
tion of Zoroaster," on the nature of the deity, and 
assures us that the Persian Osthanes maintained the 
same in the Octateuch. 3 Plutarch gives us a short 
but accurate account of the system of Zoroaster ; his 
contemporary Dio Chrysostom asserts that Zoroaster 
and the sons of the Magians had sung of the balance of 
Zeus and the constellation of the day in strains more 
sublime than those of Homer or Hesiod ; 4 and Pausanias 
relates that at the kindling of the sacrificial fire the 
invocation was sung by the Magians from a book in a 
barbarous language wholly unintelligible to the Greeks. 5 
This evidence from the West confirms the existence 

Plin. " H. N." 30, 2. 

" H. N." 37. 49, 55, 58 ; 26, 9 ; 27, 35 ; 28, 19, 27 ; 29, 38 ; 21, 36. 

Philon. BybL fragm. 9, ed. Muller. 

4 Dio Chrysost e<L Dind. 2, 60. * Pausan. 5, 27, 3. 


of sacred writings in Iran after the time of Alexander, 
and also indicates that they existed previously to 
that date; it contradicts the story of their destruc- 
tion by the Macedonians. The books must have been 
in existence when Hermippus could speak of their 
extent, and quote rules from them ; and writings of 
the kind must have been known when, in the days 
of Pausanias, the Magians could sing their invocations 
from a book. From other sources we are sufficiently 
informed that Alexander's efforts were not directed 
towards destroying the national character and tra- 
ditional religion of the Persians. Arrian tells us that 
Magians no less than Greek soothsayers took part 
in their festivals. 1 Nor were the Seleucids more 
desirous than Alexander to effect the destruction of 
the Iranian nationality ; just as the Ptolemies never 
attempted to set aside the Egyptian religion and life. 
Even if they had cherished such views, they were far 
from being strong enough to cany them out, for the 
Greek empire over Iran lasted in its integrity only 
eighty years. The Arsacids also, who recovered Iran 
from the Seleucids, were not averse to the Greek 
nation. They called themselves friends of the Hellenes, 
and not only was Greek spoken, but even the trage- 
dies of Euripides were acted at their courts. The 
scanty remains of the monuments present us with 
echoes of Greek ; 2 their coins, with few exceptions, 
bear Greek legends like those of the Bactrian princes 
whom they overcame. But though the influence of the 
Hellenic character continued under the Arsacids, and 
at the same time the Aramaean language and manners 

1 "Anab."7, 11, 8. 

8 E. g. the bas-relief on Mount Bohistun in the winged victory, 
which refers to the battle between Vardanes and Gotarzes, between 4 
and 50 A.D. [Of. Rawlinson, "Sixth Monarchy," p. 389, where a 
sketch of the relief is given.] 


obtained even greater recognition than Hellenism 
during their dominion, the reign of the Arsacids was a 
restoration and revivification of the Iranian nationality. 
According to the evidence of western writers the 
Magians together with the members of the royal race 
formed the council of the Arsacids. 1 Pliny has already 
told us that these princes obeyed the rules of the 
Magians, and we also find that they invoked Mithra 
as the Achaamenids had done, and "saluted the sun." 5 
Like the Achaemenids, too, the)^ would not permit 
their armies to fight by night, and we are told that 
in their time the greatest weight was given to the 
love of truth and fidelity, i. e. to the virtues which, 
according to Herodotus, the Persians of his time con- 
sidered the most important, and on which the A vesta 
insists above all others. 3 We also learn from western 
writers that the founder of the kingdom (Arsaces I.) 
was a descendant of Phriapites (Friyapaiti), and with 
his brother Tiridates and five others he slew the satrap 
of Antiochus Theos, and drove out the Macedonians ; 4 
just as Darius with the six Persian princes overthrew 
the dominion of Gaumata ; and the Arabs relate that 
the Arsacids trace back their stock to Qyavarshana, 
the son of Kava U^a, a story which cannot have been 
invented in Arabia. 6 In the list of the Arsacids we 
also find the name Chosru (108 130 A.D.), the Kava 
Hurava of the old legend (p. 37) ; on the coins we 
find a Vologeses and a Phraates before the fire-altar, 
the characteristic symbol of the ancient worship of 

1 Poseidonius in Strabo, p. 515 ; Justin, 42, 1. 

Herodian, 4, 30. 

PJut. " Crassus," c. 29; "Anton." o. 47 ; Joseph. " Antiq." 18, 9, 
3 ; Justin (12, 3), and Horace (" Ep." 1, 2, 112), are of another opinion 
in regard to the latter point 

4 Above, p. 26. Arrian, " Parth." 2, ed. Miiller ; Eunap. p. 222. 

6 Al Biruni in Droysen, " Hellenism us," 3 2 , 372. 


Iran. Just as the old Arian character appears beside 
the Greek on the coins of the Greek princes of 
Bactria, the Greek character on the coins of the 
Arsacids gradually degenerates until at length it gives 
way to a new Iranian character and language. The 
tradition sketched in the Dinkart, as we have seen, 
represents the Arsacid Vologeses (which of the four 
princes of the name is meant is not clear) 1 as collect- 
ing what fragments remained of the holy scriptures 
in the memory of the priests. The burning of the 
scriptures by Alexander, as related in the books 
of the Parsees on their exodus and the Arda Viraf, 
is merely a transference to him of the conduct of 
the Moslems on their conquest of Iran. Of the 
continuance of the ancient religion of Iran under 
the Arsacids there can be no doubt, though it is true 
that along with it, in the Greek cities which Alex- 
ander and the Seleucids founded, and which were 
independent within their walls even under the Par- 
thians, Hellenic rites were practised. In these cities 
Syrian modes of worship were also permitted, and the 
Aramaic language and culture found entrance into 
Iran. 2 

In the land of Persia, among the Persians whom 
Mithridates I. subjugated to the dominion of the 
Arsacids, reminiscences of the ancient time, of the 
splendour and glory of the Achaemenids, were naturally 
more lively than in Parthia, which was formerly subject 
to the Persians, and now under the Arasacids stood at 
the head of Iran. In Persia, Artakshatr (Ardeshir), 
the son of Papaki, the grandson of Sassan, rebelled 

1 Vologeses I. reigned 5080 A.D. ; Vologeses II. 130149 A.D. ; 
Vologeses HI. and IV. 149208 A.D. ; the son of the fourth, also 
Vologeses, reigned beside Artabanus IV. 

2 "Joseph. "Ant." 18, 9, 1; "Bell. Jud." Prooem. 1, 2; Ammian. 
MarcelL 23, 6. 


against king Artabanus IV. In three great battles 
the Persians contended with the Parthians ; the latter 
were conquered, and Artabanus fell, and with him the 
kingdom of the Arsacids after a continuance of 476 
years (225 A.D.). With the reign of Ardeshir began 
a more energetic restoration of Iran. He and his 
successors after him revered the memory of the Achae- 
menids, and strove to continue their achievements l 
We again hear of seven houses, and seven princes who 
had the right to wear diadems beside the king, like 
the seven tribal princes of the old Persian kingdom; 2 
we find the fire-altar before the tent of the Sassanids 
as well as the Achsemenids ; and in the army of the 
Sassanids, no less than in that of Darius and Xerxes, 
was a troop of "immortals." Ardeshir, like the founder 
of the Persian empire, caused a portrait of himself on 
horseback to be cut in a rock- wall to the north-west 
of Persepolis (Naksh-i-Rustem) in remembrance of the 
achievements which established his kingdom the rock 
on which 700 years before Darius had marked his 
tomb by a portrait and inscription. The inscription 
under this portrait (in the Pehlevi of East and West 
Iran, with a Greek translation) runs thus : " Portrait of 
the worshipper of Mazda, the god Artakshatr (Artax- 
ares in the Greek), the king of kings of the Arians 
(of the kings of Airan, in the Pehlevi texts), the scion 
of the sky (minit chitri), the son of the god Papaki, 
the king." 3 Ardeshir's son, Shapur I. (241 272 A.D.), 
caused his victory over Valerian and his capture of 
the emperor to be recorded on the same rock ; we see 
Shapur on horseback, and Valerian kneeling before 
him, a representation which recurs at the old Persian 

1 Ammian. Marcell. 17, 5. * Noldeke, " Tabari" s. 437. 

1 De Sacy, "Memoires de 1'institut CL Hist" 2, 162 242. [Raw- 
linson, " Seventh Monarchy," p. 70, 606.] 


city of Darabgerd. At Naksh-i-Rejeb, between the 
rock- wall of Naksh-i-Rustem and Mount Nachmed, on 
which abutted Persepolis, the proud citadel of the 
Achaemenids, and in the grotto of Haiyabad, we 
find in the one case a portrait of Shapur, and 
in the other inscriptions which mention this ruler 
and king Varahran. At Kermanshah, on the western 
side of Mount Behistun, on the eastern side of which 
mountain Darius inscribed the proudest memorial of 
his achievements, we see king Ardeshir, and beneath 
him the corpse of Artabanus ; behind the king is 
Mithra with the club which gave him victory, and 
before him Auramazda who presents the ring of empire 
to Ardeshir. Not far from this portrait Shapur II. 
(309 379 A.D.) caused a grotto to be excavated in the 
rock. In the sculpture of this cave we see the goddess 
Auahita, who presents to the king the ring of empire ; 
at some distance are the hunting expeditions of the 
king ; a second grotto close to this exhibits the pictures 
of king Auharmazdi II. , the father of Shapur II., and 
of Shapur III. his second successor. 1 

Though the Sassanids sought to restore the kingdom 
of the Achaemenids, and immortalise their own achieve- 
ments beside those of the early kings, the religious 
revival which they undertook was far more thorough 
than the political. In this direction they went further 
than the Achaemenids ; they caused the forms which 
the old faith of Iran had retained and forced on the 
East, to be current throughout the whole kingdom. 
Agathias assures us that Ardeshir was eagerly devoted 
to the study of the doctrine of the Magians, who 
since his accession had gained an importance such 
as they never enjoyed before. The business of the 
State was decided upon their advice and predictions ; 

[ Eawliiison, he. tit. p. 602, 607, 92 ff.] 


they assisted individual persons in their private matters 
and suits at law, and the Persians did not regard any- 
thing as legal and right which was not confirmed by a 
Mugian. 1 At the head of the Magians, we are told in 
another account coming from a western source, a Grand 
Magian was placed under the Sassanids, 2 and as a fact 
the Magians now received a thorough organisation. 
At the head of their caste was the High Magian 
(Maynpat, Mobedh) ; and over all the High Magians 
was the Grand Magian (Afagupata* magupaf) \ to the 
Magians belonged the judicial power ; and the Grand 
Magian performed the coronation of the king. The 
Sassanids erected fire-temples in Persia no less than 
in Aderbeijan ; their coins always exhibit the fire- 
altar, and as a rule two priests before it. They carried 
their genealogy beyond Sassan through Qpentodata 
(p. 38) to Vista^pa of Baetria, who is now said to 
have established the seven princes ; they call them- 
selves by the names of the ancient heroes who met us 
in the A vesta ; Kavadh (Kava Kavata) and Chosru 
(Kava Hu9rava). While styling themselves the wor- 
shippers of Mazda (Auramazda) like the founders of 
their empire, they went so far as to assume the names 
of the gods of the Avesta ; some even called themselves 
after Verethraghna (Varahran, Bahram), others Auhar- 
mazdi after Auramazda himself. The numerous Chris- 
tians on the Euphrates and Tigris as well as in Armenia 
had to undergo severe persecutions ; especially under 
Shapur II., Varahran V.,and Yezdegerd II. (438457 
A.D.), whose viceroy declared to the Armenian Chris- 
tians that the Daevas (Dews) of Ahriman had deceived 
them ; it was not the good God who had created evil 
and death but the wicked spirit. Defection from the 
faith of Auramazda was punished with death. In the 
i Agathios, 2, 26. l Sozomon, " H. EccL" 2, 10, 12. 


treaties of the years 422, 533, and 563 A.D. Theo- 
doshis II. and Justinian obtained the concession that 
the Christians in the kingdom of the Sassanids should 
not be compelled to conform to the rules of the 
Magians ; they were to be at liberty to bury their 
dead, 1 whereas the doctrine of Zarathrustra required 
that the corpses should be exposed. 

As such was the attitude of the house of the 
Sassanids, we may believe the books of the Parsees 
that Ardeshir eagerly took in hand the revival of the 
true faith, and that he was assisted in this by com- 
petent Magians ; by Arda Viraf, according to the book 
of the Exodus and of Arda Viraf (p. 50) ; according 
to the Dinkart, by the Herbedh Tosar. The book of 
Arda Viraf relates at length how he fell asleep in the 
assembly of priests before Ardeshir, and his soul was 
carried by the god Qraosha through heaven and hell. 
And when the Dinkart represents a standard of true 
religion as being set up under Ardeshir, there is no 
reason to doubt the statement. After the reign of 
Ardeshir, we are told in the Book of the Exodus, the 
true religion was again suspended, or, as the Book of 
Arda Viraf tells us, a schism arose. The cause of this 
division is sufficiently known from other sources. In 
the reign of Shapur I. (241 272 A.D.) a native of 
Ctesiphon, of the name of Mani, came forward with a 
new doctrine which attempted to mingle Ohaldaean, 
Jewish, and Christian elements in the faith of Iran, 
and to resolve it into abstractions. He found numerous 
adherents. 2 Varahran II. (276 293 A.D.) allowed him 
to dispute with the Magians, and then put him to 
death. Under Shapur II., who succeeded his father 
Auharmazdi II. as a posthumous child (309 379 A.D.), 

1 Menandri Protect, fragm. 11, ed. Miiller. 

[ 2 Cf. Eawlinsoii, " Seventh Monarchy," p. 96 ff.] 


in order to check Manicheism and the advance of 
Christianity, it was necessary to go back to the prin- 
ciples of the old faith, and to invigorate these by the 
collection and establishment of the sacred scriptures. 
We may therefore have the fullest confidence in ac- 
cepting from these three books of the Parsees the facts 
that Shapur " made the sacred faith to be famous ; " 
that Aderbat, whose work under Shapur is confirmed 
by Hamza of Isfahan, collected the scriptures, purified 
the sayings of Zarathrustra, and enumerated the chap- 
ters. It is on this redaction of the canon by Aderbat 
Mahresfant under Shapur II. that the list of the books 
and chapters rests, distinguishing what were originally 
in existence and what were then preserved. What was 
not discovered " after Alexander " means what was not 
discovered or not accepted at this redaction. Instead of 
the 815 chapters which the A vesta is said to have pre- 
viously contained, the new cauon amounted to only 
348 chapters. That Aderbat was the founder of this 
canon is clear not only from the epithet which the 
books, of the Parsees give him (Mahresfant, Old Bac- 
trian Manthra9penta, meaning " the sacred word/') but 
also from the confession of faith still in use among the 
Parsees : "I abide in the law which Zarathrustra 
taught to Vista9pa, to Frashaostra, to Jamacpa, and 
Qpentodata, which came in the succession of gener- 
ations to Aderbat, who duly corrected and purified it." 1 
It was shown above that the language of the sacred 
books thus again collected was that of Eastern Iran 
(p. 30). When Aderbat revised the canon it had 
long ceased to be spoken. But there were already 
translations of the sacred books into the later forms 
which the language of Iran had received in the time 
of the Parthians, or at any rate such translations 
1 Spiegel, Avesta, 3, 214, 218, 219, 227. 


were made after the revision of the canon. 1 Masudi 
informed us that the Avesta was composed in the old 
Persian language, which at that time (tenth century 
A.D.) was no longer understood. Ibn Haukal, who 
travelled in Persia in the same century, tells us : "In 
Fars three languages are in use ; the Farsi, in which 
the inhabitants converse with each other ; the Pehlevi, 
which was the language of the ancient Persians, and 
in which the Magians wrote their historical books, but 
which in our time is no longer understood by the 
inhabitants of Fars without a translation ; and the 
Arabian. 2 ' When Aderbat revised the Avesta in the 
middle of the fourth century B.C., the Parsi (Farsi), i. e. 
the later Middle Persian, was still in formation ; the 
older Middle Persian or Pehlevi was still intelligible, 
but translations of the Avesta into this language did 
not make clear to every one the meaning of the ancient 
language in which the scriptures were composed. In 
the time of the Parthian empire the old mode of 
writing was given up in the West as well as in the 
East of Iran, and exchanged for new methods. In the 
West a cuneiform character derived from the writing of 
Babylon and Assyria had been adopted ; the East used 
the Arian alphabet. Under the Arsacids the Pehlevi 
became common. Like the old Persian cuneiform 
this is borrowed from a Semitic pattern. The chief city 
of the Partliians lay on the Tigris in the midst of a 
Semitic population. The cursive character of the 
Aramaeans, as we find it on the coins of the satraps of 
the Achsemenids of the fourth century B.C., with a few 
modifications, forms the base of the Pehlevi ; and the 
earlier shapes of this character are seen in the coins of 

1 Above, p. 17. On the date of these translations, Haug, " Pahlavi- 
Fazand Glossary," p. 147. 

8 Quatrem6re, " Journal des Savants," 1840, p. 412. 


the Arsacids of the first century A.D. But it is not 
the character which forms the peculiar mark of Pehlevi. 
Along with the Aramaic letters the Parthians took the 
Aramaic vocabulary ; they wrote the Aramaic word 
instead of the Persian, and to this they attached the 
termination or case-ending of the corresponding Persian 
word ; the reader must understand Aramaic and sub- 
stitute the Persian word for the Aramaic when read- 
ing. 1 Hence Pehlevi was in reality a secret mode of 
writing, intended exclusively for the learned, i. e. for 
the priests. It is a proof of the close connection 
between the priests of the East and West that this 
character, which arose in the West out of the contact 
with the Aramaic population on the Euphrates and 
Tigris, spread to the East also and was adopted by the 
scholars there. Nor was this all. The variations in 
the Eastern dialect brought about certain modifica- 
tions in the forms of the letters, and thus there arose 
an Eastern alphabet of Pehlevi beside the Western 
alphabet. When Ardeshir destroyed the empire of the 
Parthians in the year 226 A.D. these two alphabets were 
in existence. The Eastern alphabet finally triumphed 
over the Western. It became the royal mode of 
writing, and as such was used on the coins. The letters 
in the manuscripts of the Pehlevi translation of the 
Avesta in the possession of the Parsees agree throughout 
with the characters on the legends of the coins of the 
Sassanids about the year 600 A.D. 2 The characters 

1 Haug, " Pahlavi-Pazand Glossary," p. 120 ff. ; 128 ff . [West, 
" Pahlavi Texts," part 1. Introd. 2. 

Lepsius, " Zendalphabet, Abh. B. Akad." 1862, 8. 338; Lenormant, 
" Sur 1'alphabet Pehlevi Journ. Asiat. !-." 6, 6, 180 ff. ; Levy,"Beitrago 
Z. D. M. G.", 21, 459 ff. From Ardeshir down to Narses, f. e. from 226 
to 302 A.D., the writing on the coins agrees with the West Pehlevi of 
the monuments of the Sassanids. From 302 to 600 A.D. the character 
ou the coins is different. From 600 the writing on the coins agrees 
with the MSS. of the Parsees; Mordtinann, "Z. D. M. G." 8, 12 ff. 


also, in which the text of the Avesta is written in the 
manuscripts of the Parsees, belong to the later East- 
Pehlevi alphabet, which, owing to the greater wealth 
of the old Bactrian alphabet in sounds, especially in 
vowels, possesses a greater number of letters. 1 The 
coincidence of the letters in the manuscripts of the 
Parsees with those on the coins of the later Sassanids, 
proves beyond contradiction that although the oldest 
existing manuscripts belong to the fourteenth century 
of our era, 2 they are nevertheless true copies of the 
characters in which the Avesta was written in the last 
century of the empire of the Sassanids . 

All that the Parsees of India now possess are some 
not very extensive remains of the revision of the 
sacred scriptures made in the reign of Shapur II. 
The existing part of the laws corresponds in the title, the 
divisions and their arrangements, with the twentieth 
book of the text (p. 52). It contains the rubrics for 
purification, for repelling and removing the evil spirits. 
The title is the Vendidad, or, in the older form, the 
Vidaevodata, i. e. " given against the Daevas," or evil 
spirits. Obviously this book was regarded as the most 
important and valuable part of the law, and to this 
circumstance it owes its preservation. Besides this we 
have invocations and prayers, chiefly belonging to the 
liturgy. They form a considerable collection, known 
by the title of Ya9na, *. e. worship. The remainder of 
the 348 chapters was lost in the invasion of the Arabs 
into Iran, owing to their fanatical zeal for conversion. 3 

1 Lepsius, loc. cit. s. 306. * Westergaard, "Avesta," 1, 4 ff. 

3 That the author or authors of the Bundehesh, for the work con- 
sists of a collection of fragments of various character, had before them 
larger remains of the Avesta, or a commentary which included more 
than our fragments, may be conceded. The composition of the work 
cannot be placed before the time of the Arabs, for the whole period of 
the Sassanid empire is given, and even on an extended scale (p. 82), 

VOL. V. F 


Though we were able to establish the fact that these 
fragments belonged in their language, their contents, 
and their written character to Eastern Iran, and the evi- 
dence of Western writers proved to us that at the time 
when Alexander of Macedon overthrew the kingdom 


of the Achaemenids, there were sacred scriptures of con- 
siderable extent in Iran this does not enable us to 
decide the date of the origin of these scriptures. We 
have to inquire whether these writings were known in 
the West of Iran also, before the date of the Sassanids ; 
whether the new collection and revision about the 
year 350 of our era was satisfied with faithfully repre- 
senting the old condition of the scriptures, so far as it 
could be discovered, or whether it altered their con- 
tents ; whether the influence exercised by Hellenic and 
Aramaic elements in the time of the Seleucids and 
Parthians so obvious in the one case and so searching 
in the other affected the contents of the Avesta. 1 
This question cannot be set aside, because even under 
the Sassanids, in spite of their zeal for the Avesta and 
for Iran, these elements were not unknown. We are 
aware that Greek and Jewish schools flourished in 
Syria and Mesopotamia at the date of the Sassanids, 
that Chosru Nushirvan (531 578 A.D.) gave his pro- 
tection to Damascius and the Platonists in his kingdom, 
and caused Greek works to be translated. However 
much other virtues, required in the Avesta, were 
extolled in this ruler, such as the foundation of fire- 
temples, and appointment of sacristans for them, the 
promotion of agriculture (no temple was to be without 
cultivated lands) and of marriages nevertheless sects 

mention is mado of the empire of the Arabs, and Arabian words occur. 
Cf. Justi, "Bundehesh," p. ix. ft ; cf. below, p. 73. [West, " Pahlavi 
Texts," 1, Introd. p. xci. ff]. 

1 Ou the Aramean sketch of the dialectic of Aristotle which was 
written for Chosru, c Benan, " Journ. Asiat." 1852, p. 311. 


sprung up within the true religion. Even in official 
documents of the fifth century we find a certain devia- 
tion from the doctrine of the Avesta : under kino- 


Kavadh (488 453 A.D.), Mazdak, who proclaimed the 
community of goods and women, found adherents, 
and the Arabs speak of sects in Iran which opposed 
the teaching of the Magians. 1 They mention the 
Zarvauites, the Gayomarthians, and others, of whom 
the Zarvanites sought to derive the good and evil 
deity from some higher abstraction, 2 while the Gayo- 
marthians represented the evil deity as proceeding from 
the thought of the good deity. Had conceptions of 
this kind, and other later views which we find in their 
doctrines, influence on the restoration of the canon ? 
The fact that the sacred writings were composed in 
a language no longer current, when the canon was 
restored, is not a complete safeguard against changes 
and interpolations, for the priests at that time may 
have understood the language, and therefore may 
possibly have been able to compose in it. 

1 [Of. Rawlinson, loc. cit. 448 ff. ; 342 ff.] 

2 " Sharastani," by Haarbriicker, 2, 284. The son of Mihr Narsos is 
called Zarvaudadh. 

F 2 



THE examination of the difficult questions, whether, 
from what period, and to what extent, the A vesta was 
known in Western Iran before the time of Alexander, 
when the book came into existence, whether its con- 
tents have come down uninjured from an ancient 
period, or whether it underwent alterations in the 
time of the Parthians and the Sassanids, will be best 
opened by collecting and testing the accounts which 
have been preserved in the West about Zarathrustra 
and his work. Herodotus does not mention him, but 
Xanthus the Lydian is said to have spoken of him, 
before the date of Herodotus. Plato describes Zoro- 
aster as the founder of the doctrine of the Magians, 
and calls him a son of Oromazes.* With Hermodorus, 
a pupil of Plato, Zoroaster is a Persian, the first 
Magian. 3 Deinon concludes from the name that he 
was a worshipper of the stars. Hermippus of Smyrna 
speaks of him as a Bactrian, and is said to have 
described him as a pupil of Azonakes (or Agonakes). 4 
Diodorus informs us that Zoroaster gave out among 
the Arians that the good spirit had revealed to him 
the laws which he published. 6 Trogus Pompeius 

[' Cf. Darmesteter, " Zend-Avesta," Intrcxhict., c. iv. 40, and c. iii.] 
* Plato. " Alcib. I." p. 122. ' Diog. Lacrt. prooem. 

4 Plin. "H. N." 30, 2. 1, 94. 


relates that Ninus finally carried on war with Zoro- 
aster the king of the Bactrians, who discovered the 
art of the Magians, and inquired accurately into the 
primal forces of the world, and the movements of the 
stars ; he was slain by Ninus. 1 Pliny observes that 
Zoroaster, the founder of the doctrine of the Marians, 

O ' 

smiled on the day of his birth, and beat his head 
vigorously as a symbol of his wisdom ; for thirty 
years he lived in the desert on cheese. Plutarch's 
account is that Zoroaster took no other food or drink 
all his life but milk, and like Lycurgus and Numa, he 
associated with the Divine Being. 2 Dio Chrysostom 
tells us that Zoroaster from his love for wisdom and 
justice lived remote from men in solitude on a moun- 
tain, which had been kindled by fire from above, and 
burned continuously, and when the king approached 
the mountain with his leading men to offer prayer to 
the god, Zoroaster came unharmed out of the fire, and 
bade them offer sacrifice for the god had visited the 
place. After this Zoroaster did not associate with all 
men, but only with those who were most adapted to 
receive the truth and converse with the god, whom 
the Persians called Magians, i. e. those who have skill 
to serve the Divine Being. 3 Kephalion asserted that 
Zoroaster the Magian, the king of the Bactrians, 
fought with Semiramis and was vanquished by her. 4 
Theon of Alexandria also speaks of the conflict between 
Semiramis and the Bactrian Zoroaster. Arnobius is 
aware of the battle of Ninus with Zoroaster and the 
Bactrians, 5 and in Eusebius Zoroaster, the Magian, the 

1 Justin, 1, 1. 

* " Numa," c. 4 ; " Quaest. Sympos." 4, 1. [The reading Zwpoa<rrpjv 
is doubtful ; cf. Wyttenbach.] s Dio Chrys. 2, 60, ed. Dind. 

4 Euseb. " Chron." ed. Auch. p. 43 ; cf. Georg. Syncell. p. 167. 
Barov after Zoroaster should here be changed into Bacrpov rather thaa 
Mdyou. 6 Arnob. " Ad\. Gent." 1, 5. 


king of the Bactriaiis, fights against Ninus. 1 Accord- 
ing to the treatise of Eubulus of Athens on Mithras, 


Porphyrius related that Zoroaster had consecrated a 
natural cave, in which were flowers and springs, in 
the neighbouring mountains of Persia, in honour of 
Mithra, the creator and father of all, and since that 
time the favour of the god had been sought in a cave. 2 
Ammianus Marcelliuus calls Zoroaster a Bactrian, and 
tells us that Hystaspes, the father of Darius, spread 
abroad the doctrine of the Magians. 8 Agathias re- 
marks that the Persians of his time asserted that 
Zoroaster, or Zaradus, as they called him, who gave 
them their religious doctrine and law, the sou of 
Oromasdes, lived at the time of Hystaspes ; but they 
made the assertion in such a manner that no man 
knew whether this Hystaspes was the father of Darius 
or some other of the name. But whatever the date of 
his life, he changed the earlier forms of worship, and 
was the discoverer of the doctrine of the Magians. 4 
Suidas distinguishes between the Perso-Mede Zoroaster, 
the chief of the Magians, and the astronomer of the 
same name, an Assyrian, who lived at the time of 
Ninus. 5 In Syncellus, Zoroaster is the first of the 
eight Median kings, who, according to the statement 
of Berosus, reigned over Babylonia from 2458 to 
2224 B.c. 6 

These statements do not amount to much. Yet we 
find the tradition maintained from the pupils of Plato 
down to Agathias, that Zoroaster founded the doctrine 
of the Magians ; Diodorus, Plutarch, and Dio mention 
the intercourse of Zoroaster with the good spirit or the 

1 Euseb. loc. cit. p. 35. 8 Porphyr. " De antro nymph." c. 6. 
* Ammian. MarcolL 23, 6. * Agathias, 2, 24. 

6 Suidas, Mdyoi, Zwpoa'orpijc. 

8 Above, p. 17. Goorg. Sync. p. 78, 79. Vol. I. p. 241, 247. 


deity. Diodorus calls him an Arian, i. e. an inhabit- 
ant of Eastern Iran. Hermippus, Trogus Porapeius, 
Kephalion, Theon, Arnobius, and Eusebius speak of him 
as a Bactrian, and the king of the Bactrians, and 
represent him as fighting with Ninus or Semiramis, 
which is also asserted by Moses of Khorene. 1 Hence 
in the last two centuries B.C. it must have been known 
in the West that Zoroaster belonged to the East of 
Iran, and thus he was brought into connection with the 
most prominent fact known in the history of Bactria, 
the contest of the Bactrians against Ninus and Semi- 
ramis. This story, as we said, comes from the Medo- 
Pcrsian Epos, and moreover the Epos did not authorise 
this connection of Ninus and Zoroaster. The oppo- 
nent of Ninus, who reigned over Bactria, was, accord- 
ing to Diodorus, Oxyartes or Exaortes (p. 20). The 
fact that Zoroaster was the most important name in 
the antiquity of Iran among western nations obviously 
induced Syncellus to put him at the head of the 
supposed ancient Median dynasty. If Zoroaster, as 
Pliny and Plutarch think, lived only on milk and 
cheese, and passed thirty years in the wilderness, these 
are merely traits taken from the lives of the Brahman 
ascetics. The story in Dio Chrysostom, that Zoroaster 
came unharmed from the fire, and the opposite state- 
ments of the Chronicle of Alexandria and of Suidas, 
that he brought down fire from heaven and was con- 
sumed by it, or struck by lightning, contain traits 
which have obviously sprung from the importance 
which the doctrine of Zoroaster and the Marians 


ascribe to the worship of fire, and from the division 
between the fire of lightning and earthly fire, of which 
we shall speak below. The narrative of Eubulus is 
founded on the mysteries of Mithra, which came into 

1 Yet with Moses Zoroaster is a Mode, I. p. 87. 


the West in the first century B.C. 1 These mysteries 
are due to the confusion of the Mithra of the Iranians 
with the sun-god of the Syrians ; the mystse were 
consecrated in caves, or in places called caves, and 
there underwent their probation. As the god of 
light and the soul Mithra slays in the cave, that is in 
the world of gloom and matter, the bull which is the 
symbol of matter, as opposed to light, in its creative 
power, and conveys the soul, the side of man akin to 
light, out of the gloom of matter through the heaven 
of the fixed stars, and then through the heaven of 
the planets, to the light. 2 Ammianus Marcelliims 
and Agathias have better information about Zoroaster. 
They are aware that he stands in some relation to 
Hystaspes. Ammianus, though he expressly describes 
Zoroaster as a Bactrian, puts Hystaspes the well- 
known father of Darius, as the supporter of the doctrine 
of the Magians, in the place of the Vista9pa of the 
Avesta, who opens a wide path for the teaching 
of Zoroaster ; Agathias, on the other hand, expresses 
himself with greater circumspectness ; he cannot de- 
cide whether the father of Darius or some other 
Hystaspes is meant. 

The result is this : Before the time of Alexander 
of Macedon, at the latest in the first half of the fourth 
century B.C., the Greeks were aware that Zoroaster 
had founded the doctrine of the Magians ; in the last 
centuries B.C. and onwards it was known that he 
belonged to Bactria and Eastern Iran ; but it was not 


till the fourth century A.D. that he was known to have 
lived under king Hystaspes ; at any rate we have no 
older evidence on this point. 

Plut " Pomp." c. 24. 

s Cf. Von Gutschmid, "Die Sage vom heiligen Ooorg; " Sachsische 
Oeaollschaft d. W., 1861, s. 175. 


Much more recent in date, and of far less value, 

is the information derived from the East, with the 

exception of the Avesta, on Zarathrustra. It does not 

go back beyond the period of the Arabian empire over 

Iran. The Bundehesh, written in this period (p. 65, #. 3), 

contains a genealogy, which carries Zarathrustra's origin 

beyond Pourushacpa and Haechata9pa, from whom, 

according to the Avesta, he was sprung (p. 38), through 

twelve generations to Manuschithra (Minocher). In 

the Avesta, the soul of the pure Manuschithra, the 

son of Airyu, is invoked; 1 it has been observed above 

that the national genealogy in Iran placed Thraetaona, 

and not Manu, at the head ; Airyu, the son of Thraetaona, 

was the proper progenitor of the Airyas. With the 

name Manuschithra, i. e. scion of Manu, who is now 

the son of Airyu, this table passed back into the old 

Arian conception of the father Manu (p. 44). In the 

Avesta, Zarathrustra is connected by his father, the 

fourth sacrificer of the Haoma, with the old sacrificers ; 

and by deriving his family from Manuschithra the 

Bundehesh places him in the closest relation to the 

progenitors of the Airyas. For the rest this book has 

little to say about the life of Zoroaster. It informs 

us that the house of Pourushapa lay on a hill on the 

river Daraja, a river which we cannot identify ; 2 the 

Bundehesh places it in Airyana Vaeja (Airanvij), in a 

district which we must place in the high region of the 

Hindu Kush, on the sources of the Oxus (p. 31, n. 2), 

though the Bundehesh informs us that " it lay by the 

side of Atropatene." According to another passage in 

the book, Airyana Vaeja lay near the garden of Yima 

and Cashmere. In a third passage the garden of Yima, 

which we are compelled by unmistakable indications 

i " Farvardin Yasht," 131. 

C. 20 in Justi, [c. 20 ; 32 West] ; cf. " Vend." 19, 15. 


in the Avesta, to seek on the divine mountain, lies in 
the centre of Iran, under Mount Damkan. 1 Atro- 
patene, as a name for the Alpine land in the north- 
west of Iran (now Aclerbeijan), came into use in the 
time of the Greek empire ; at any rate we cannot trace 
it earlier. 2 Athrapaili means " lord of fire " ; atkrapaia t 
" one protected by fire " ; in the remote mountains of 
this district the old fire-worship was preserved with 
peculiar zeal under the Seleucids ; from the time of 
Ardeshir the Sassanids venerated the fire-temple Adar 
Gu^asp (near Takht-i-Solimau), which lay in this region, 
above all others, and this was the reason why in the 
time of the Arabs it was thought that Airyana Vaeja 
must be sought there. 3 In any case it is impossible, 
out of regard to the Bundehesh and even later state- 
ments of the Moslem period, to place Zarathrustra in 
the north-west of Iran in order to represent him as a 
foreigner, reforming the religion of the north-east, when 
the Avesta, which distinctly places him in the east 
and puts him among the sacrifice rs and heroes of the 
east and rulers of Bactria, together with the older 
and more important evidence of the West, is on the 
opposite side. 

The " Book of Zartusht," one of the most recent 
books of the Parsees (it dates from the thirteenth 
century of our era), can only tell us of the marvellous 
preservation of Zarathrustra and the miracles which 
he wrought. The first miracle recorded in it is the 
fact that Zoroaster smiled at his birth. But the 
wicked king Duransarun sought to murder the newly- 

1 C. 30, cf. above, p. 40. [C. 29, 14, West.] 

8 Strabo, p. 515, derives it from Atropates, whom Alexander made 
satrap there. 

8 Still less important than the Bundehesh is the gloss on " Vend." 
1, 60. " Many say that Zartusht was from Eak in Atroputun." Bagha 
is not in Atropatono. 


born child in his cradle. His arm is paralysed, and 
he cannot strike the blow home. Then the evil spirits 
steal the child, kindle a great fire in the desert, and 
throw him into it. But he sleeps peacefully in the 
fire, and his mother recovers him without injury. A 
herd of cattle are about to trample him on a narrow 
path, when the largest one stands over and protects 
him, till the herd have passed by. In a similar manner 
he is preserved when a pair of wild horses are driven 
over him. Even the wolves will not eat him. When 
he has reached his thirtieth year these trials are over, 
and Zarathrustra emigrates with his followers. On 
reaching Iran the good spirit Vohu ruano appeared and 
conducted him to Auramazda. He had to pass over a 
fiery mountain, but the fire did not singe a hair ; 
molten metal was poured on his breast, and he felt it 
not ; his entrails were removed and then replaced 
without injury to him. Auramazda gave him the 
Avesta and commanded him to go to king Vistapa 
(now Kai Gushta5p) to Balkh, and proclaim it to him. 
In Balkh Zoroaster overcame the sages of the king in 
argument, but they maligned him before their master 
as a wizard, and he was put in prison. Then the feet 
of the king's horse were drawn up into its belly, and 
the king bade Zarathrustra heal his horse. He re- 
quired the king to believe in him and his doctrine ; 
and when the king had acknowledged the new faith, 
one of the horse's feet was restored to it. Zarathrustra 
further demanded that Vista9pa's son Qpentodata 
(Isfendyar) should consecrate himself to the defence of 
the new faith, that the king's consort should adopt the 
law, and those who maligned him should be punished. 
When these three requests had been complied with, the 
horse recovered all its four feet. After this Vista9pa 
did nothing without the advice of Zarathrustra, and 


built fire-altars and fire-temples. And Zarathrustra 
showed the king the place he would one day occupy in 
heaven, and made Qpentodata invulnerable. 1 

Hence from the Bundehesh we obtain no more than 
the genealogical tree of Zarathrustra, which though 
characteristic for the place allotted to him, is with- 
out historical value ; and from the Zartusht Nameh, 
Sharastuni, and Mirkhond, which repeat some miracles 
more or less similar to those quoted, we gather nothing 
beyond certain traits : the smiling at birth, the fiery 
mountain, the preservation of Zarathrustra in the 
fire, which Pliny and Dio Chrysostom had already 
made known to us, and which belong to the ancient 
tradition of Iran. In the miracles which take place by 
means of oxen and horses, we can merely recognise 
the ancient and close relation of the Arians in Iran 
to .these animals, a relation which has already been 
remarked (p. 46). We might perhaps add that Fir- 
dusi represents Zarathrustra, whom he puts beside 
Vista9pa, as having been killed at a fire in Balkh when 
the city was captured by Turanians. The inter- 
course of Zarathrustra with Auramazda was known 
to Western writers, as we saw, at a far earlier 

If we can hardly glean anything worth notice from 
these accounts about Zarathrustra's life and work, 
we may perhaps gain some information about his 
date. The evidence of Ammianus Marcellinus and Aga- 
thias, when they represent him as a contemporary of 
Hystaspes, in whom we recognise Vistapa of Bactria, 
carries us no further than the Avesta, which places 
him in the closest relation to this prince (p. 38), be- 
cause his date is equally uncertain. Trogus Pompeius, 

1 Spiegel," Eran," 1, 684 ff. 


Kephalion, Theon, and Eusebius make Zarathrustra 
an opponent and therefore a contemporary of Ninus 
and Semiramis. But as neither Semiramis nor Ninus 
ruled over Asshur, and they are to be regarded as the 
personification of the rise of the power and dominion 
of that country (II. 23), we must substitute for this 
king and queen the ruler or rulers of Asshur of whom 
it is certain that their campaigns reached the east of 
Iran. We found that so far as we can at present 
judge from the monuments it was only Shalmanesar 
II. who received tribute from the Eastern lands, and 
that the armies of Tiglath Pilesar II. trod the soil 
of Arachosia (p. 19). If we could assume that the 
contests of Ninus and Semiramis have taken the place 
of the achievements of these rulers in the East of Iran, 
the date of Vistapa and Zarathrustra would have 
to be placed between 860 and 740 B.C. But this 
supposition is really without any basis. 

The more ancient statements of the Greeks carry 
us much further back than the reasoning of Trogus 
Pompeius and his successors. If we set Pliny aside, 
who asserts " that the kind of Magism established by 
Zoroaster was many years older than that taught by 
Moses," Hermippus of Smyrna puts Zoroaster 5000 
years before the Trojan war. Even before Hermippus, 
Theopompus of Chios, and Hermodorus, the pupil of 
Plato, had ascribed the same date to him. Eudoxus 
of Cnidus, the contemporary of Plato, placed him still 
higher; he thought that Zoroaster lived 6000 years 
before the death of Plato. According to Pliny, Aristotle 
ascribed to him the same antiquity, and, as we learn 
from Diogenes Laertius, maintained that the M agin us 
were older than the Egyptians. And even in the 
fifth century B.C., Xanthus the Lydian is said to have 


written that from the time when Zoroaster lived to 
the march of Xerxes against Hellas a period of 6000 
years had elapsed. 1 

Through these statements there runs, beyond all 
doubt, a system, the knowledge of which began in the 
fifth century B.C. among the Greeks and continued 
beyond the time of Alexander. Whether we take 
5000 years before the Trojan war, or 6000 years before 
Plato's death, we are equally brought back into the 
seventh millennium B.C. If the later statements of the 
West, which make Zoroaster a contemporary of Ninus 
and Semiramis, are the results of combining the most 
prominent name in Bactria with the conquest of Bac- 
tria by the founder of the Assyrian power, as related 
in the Medo- Persian Epos, the fixing of Zoroaster's 
date so many thousand years previously must have 
been taken by the Greeks from the Persians. In these 
dates we seem to be dealing with certain cyclic 
periods. We learn from Theopompus of Chios, that 
according to the doctrine of the Magians, one of the 
two gods Oromazdes and Areimanius would reign and 
the other be subject for 3000 years ; for another 3000 
years they would be in conflict, and one destroy the 
works of the other, until at length Areimanius would 
succumb and men become happy. 2 From this we 
may with certainty conclude that periods of 3000 
years were in use among the priests of Iran to denote 
certain spaces of time, and that these cycles form the 
base of the statements of the older Greeks, if we 
can prove the use of such periods in the Avesta or 
in the books of the Parsees. 

1 Plin. " H. N." 30, 2. Diogen. Laert prooem. The different read- 
inga of 500 years in Suidas and 600 in Diogenes, as compared with 
6000 and 6000 in the other MSS., can hardly be maintained against the 
uniform evidence of other witnesses. 

2 Hut " Do laid." c. 47. 


In the fragments of the A vesta which have come down 
to ua we find invocations addressed to the " time with- 
out beginning," " the time that rules the long periods." l 
But the fact that Yima's reign is fixed at 1000 years 
shows that the priests of Iran reckoned by long 
periods, and other expressions in the Avesta (p. 33) 
prove that triple multiplications were in use, 2 which 
agrees with the periods given by Theopompus. If, 
therefore, the Greeks of the fifth and fourth century 
B.C. relate that Zarathrustra lived about 6000 years 
before their time, a system must by that time have 
been current among the priests of Iran in which two 
cycles of 3000 years were supposed to have elapsed 
since the time of the prophet, and the third cycle 
had commenced. A book of the Parsees, the Mainyo-i- 
Khard, which appears to have been written towards 
the close of the empire of the Sassanids, 3 tells us that 
Angromainyu made a compact with Auramazda for 
9000 winters, and when these winters were past, 
Angromainyu would be destroyed, and the creation 
and all creatures would be as Auramazda had made 
them. 4 The Bundehesh also speaks of a similar compact, 
but divides the years in a different manner. All time 
consists of 12,000 years. In the first 3000 Auramazda 
reigned alone with the creatures which he had created 
in an invisible manner ; for the first 3000 of the next 
9000 everything went according to the will of Aura- 
mazda ; for the second 3000 the will of Auramazda 
was crossed by that of Angromainyu, but for the last 
3000 Angromainyu will be powerless. The Bundehesh 
goes into yet further detail in these matters : in the 
first 3000 years the heavenly creation was secure from 

1 "Vend." 19, 33 ; Spiegel, "Avesta," 3, 9, 201, 206. 

8 " Ashi Yasht," 17 ; " Vend." 2, 20 fl. 

3 West, " Mainyo-i-Kliard," p. x. 4 West, loc. cit. c. 8. 


attack ; in the next 3000 Gayo maretan and the ox, 
t. e. the first man and the first bull, came into existence. 
After these 6000 years the enemy arose and slew the 
first man and the first bull. The reign of Yima is 
placed by the Bundehesh in the first millennium of the 
new period, but this reign extends only to 716 years, 
the first 284 years of the thousand being filled with 
creatures prior to Yima. The second millennium of 
the period is occupied with the reign of Thraetaona, 
Manuschithra, Kava Kavata, U9a, Huyrava, and 
Aurvata9pa, and the early part of the reign of Kava 
Vista9pa, whose thirtieth year coincides with the end 
of the second millennium. 1 At the beginning of the 
third millennium, i. e. a thousand years after the death 
of Yima, Zarathrustra appears ; and the period of 
more successful opposition to the evil spirits begins. 
According to the more ancient conception, which may 
still be plainly traced in the Avesta, the world began 
with the happy age of Yiraa ; it is owing to later views 
formed within priestly circles that earlier creatures 
such as the first man and first bull are placed before 
this period ; but it will be shown below that these 
views existed when the Avesta was written down. A 
later book of the Parsees, the Sad-der-Bundehesh, puts 
the period of the conflict between the good and evil 
deity at 6000 years, and places Zarathrustra exactly 
in the middle of it ; he was created 3000 years after 
the period of Gayo maretan, and 3000 years before 
his own resurrection. 2 Hence it is clear that the 
formation of these cycles rose among the priests of 
Iran from the necessity of limiting the period of the 
old and new law, and of conflict between the good and 
evil spirits, and the desire to fix the date of the more 

1 Justi, " Bundehesh," c. 1, 3, 34. [Cf. West's commentary on c. 
34.] * Spiegel, " Eran," 1, 507. 


successful repulse of evil which came in with Zara- 
thrustra. The abbreviation of the period of Yima shows 
us that the cycles in the Bundehesh do not throughout 
agree with those of the Avesta. But it is sufficient to 
establish the fact that periods of 3000 years were in 
use, and that Zarathrustra appeared at the beginning 
of a new millennium, in order to understand that the 
Persians could speak to the Greeks of millenniums in 
this sense, and of one or two cycles which had elapsed 
since Zarathrustra's time. 

The idea and tendency of such a scheme for the 
history of the world are easily understood : these 
periods of 3000 years, which can be increased or dimin- 
ished without alteration of the sense, have only a 
dogmatic value. We cannot obtain from them any 
chronological date for the appearance of Zarathrustra, 
nor can we obtain such a date by the attempt to go 
back from the chronological statements in recent Pa.rsee 
works to the older periods. We may leave unnoticed 
the assertion in the book of Arda Viraf that the true 
faith had existed in purity for 300 years down to the 
time that Alexander came into Iran (p. 50), which would 
thus bring Zarathrustra into the seventh century B.C. 
The Bundehesh allows 460 years for the reigns of the 
Sassanids, 246 for the Askanids, i.e. the Arsacids, 16 for 
Alexander, before whom come Darai the son of Darai 
with 14 years, Darai Chirazatan with 12, Huma (a queen) 
with 30, Vohumano with 112, and Vista9pa with 90, 
all subsequent to the appearance of Zarathrustra. 1 Ac- 
cording to this, 996 years elapsed between Zarathrustra 
and the fall of the Sassanids, and he would thus, if we 
reckon from the battle of Nahavend (640 A.D.), be placed 
in the year 356 B.C., in the reign of Artaxerxes Ochus. 
But even if we alter the incorrect items in the text of 

1 Justi, " Bundeheah," c. 34. 
VOL. v. a 


the Bundehesh in accordance with our better knowledge, 
we do not arrive at any result which is even apparently 
certain. The dominion of the Sassanids, down to the 
date of the battle, did not last 460 but only 414 years ; 
on the other hand, the Arsacids reigned for 476 years, 
not for 264. l The empire of Alexander, if we add 
the reigns of the Seleucidse to his own, occupied 80 
years instead of 14, and if in the place of the 26 years 
of the two Darais of the Bundehesh, who represent the 
kingdom of the ancient Achaemenids, we put the old 
Persian kingdom with 229 years, and add to these 
items the numbers given in the Bundehesh for Huma, 
Vtfhumano, and Vista9pa, after the appearance of 
Zaratbrustra, which amount to 232 years, Zarathrustra 
would have commenced his work 1431 years before the 
battle of Nahavend, i. e. in the year 791 B.C. But who 
can guarantee that Cyrus, the Persian, overthrew the 
empire of the Medes in the year when Huma, the 
supposed daughter of Vohumano, died ; or that Huma 
reigned for 30 years ? How could Vohumano, the 
grandson of Vistapa, and son of Qpentodata (p. 38), 
have reigned 112 years, and Vistacpa himself 90 years 
after the appearance of Zarathrustra ? Huma is not 
merely a doubtful person, she is altogether fictitious. 
She is said to have been the mother of Darai Chira- 
zatan, i. e. Darius I., and to have been called Shamirain, 
i. e. Semiramis, but her brother was the first Sassan, 
the ancestor of the Sassanids. As the later Arabs and 
Persians, including Firdousi, are no better informed, 2 we 
see clearly that the remembrance of the Achsemenids 
had almost entirely died out at the time when these 

1 If tbo rise of Arsacos is put in the year 250 B.C. It make* no 
difference in the total if we choose the year 248 B.C. for the beginning 
of the Arsacids. 

8 Bluu, " Z. D. M. G." 18, 686. Von Gutschmid, ibid. 


writings were composed; only the name of Darius 
remained, and an attempt was made to connect this 
name with Vista^pa by two fictitious names, Vohu- 
mano, i. e. the good spirit, and Huma. Besides Vista- 
9pa's son Qpentodata (Isfendyar) and Hutaoc.a, the wife 
of Vista9pa, the Avesta mentions a woman, " the pure 
Huma," 1 out of whom this queen must have been 
formed. It is clear that the tradition of the East, 
like the Avesta, broke off in the generation after 
Vista^pa, and that in the Arabian period only the 
names Darai and Iskander could be placed between 
Vistac,pa and the Arsacids. 

We must attempt to reach the goal by another path. 
I have already shown what was the condition of the 
sacred scriptures in Iran at the date of Alexander and 
the Seleucids (p. 55). Even before Hermippus of 
Smyrna, Aristotle had taught that the Magians con- 
sidered that to be the best in the first instance 
which was first created, and maintained two prin- 
ciples, a good and evil deity, Oroinazdes and Arei- 
manius. 2 Theopompus mentioned both these deities 
and the strife between them, and when he adds 
that there would one day be a time when the dead 
would rise again, and men would be immortal and able 
to withstand everything by their prayers that after the 
victory of Oromazdes men would be happy and need 
no longer any sustenance, and would cast no shadow 3 
it will be seen below how definitely and exactly the 
doctrine of the Avesta is here reproduced. Hermodorus 
mentions a series of teachers, who succeeded the first 
teacher of the Magians, the " Persian Zoroaster," down 
to the campaign of Alexander of Macedon. 4 With 

1 " Farvardin Yasht," 139. 

1 Aristot. " Metaph." 13, 4. Diogen. Laert. prooem. 

8 Theopom. Fragm. 71, 72, ed. Miiller. 

4 Diogon. Laert. prooem., cf. Suidas, Mayo*. 

a 2 


Eudoxus of Ciiidus Zoroaster was the founder of the 
most beneficent wisdom ; the pupils of Prodicus claimed 
to be acquainted with the writings of Zoroaster (p. 53). 
Plato calls him the son of Oromazdes, and adds that, 
the heir to the throne was instructed in Magism as 
well as in the duty of being true during the whole of 
his life. 1 The importance which the Avesta ascribes 
to truthfulness will become clear hereafter. If the 
Greeks of the fourth century could speak of Zoroaster 
as the teacher of the Persians, and put him in the 
closest relation with Auramazda, if they could repro- 
duce correctly the names of the good and evil spirits 
and the main doctrines of the Avesta, it is an inevit- 
able conclusion that the religion of Zarathrustra must 
have prevailed in the kingdom of the Achsemenids. 

This result is confirmed by all the further informa- 
tion which we obtain from the Greeks. In Plutarch 
the last Darius calls on an eunuch, " to tell the truth in 
reverence for the great light of Mithra " ; the eunuch 
replies that the king has no reason to accuse the evil 
spirit, and entreats " Lord Oromazdes/' " that he may 
cause the light of the king to shine again." 2 Artaxerxes 
II. was informed by his mother Parysatis that the 
Persians had received the law which distinguished 
good and evil from god. He swears " by Mithra," 
and Plutarch tells us how some related that when 
Darius, the eldest son of Artaxerxes, who sought his 
life, was slain, Artaxerxes went into the court of the 
palace and cried aloud to the Persians : " Eejoice, ye 
Persians, and tell it to others, that the great Oro- 
mazdes has executed judgment on those who imagined 
crime and wickedness." 8 In Plutarch, Artaxerxes I. 
says to Themistocles : " May Areimanius ever implant 

1 " Alcib. I." p. 121. * Plut. " Alex." c. 30. 

8 Plut. " Artax" c. 4, 23, 29. 


such a disposition in ray enemies that they may drive 
from themselves their best and bravest men." 1 Accord- 
ing to Deinon the Magians prophesied with branches in 
their hands, sacrificed under the open sky, and looked 
on fire and water as the only symbols of the divinity. 2 
Xenophon represents Cyrus as praising the gods and 
sacrificing to them every morning according to the 
instructions of the Magians. 3 Though Herodotus does 
not mention either the name of Zarathrustra or of 
Auramazda, what he says of the rites of the Medes 
and Persians agrees exactly with the rules given in the 
Avesta. " Temples, images, and altars," he says, " are 
not erected by the Persians, because, as it seems to me, 
they do not believe like the Hellenes that the gods 
have the form and nature of men. They call the 
whole circle of heaven Zeus, and offer sacrifice to 
him after ascending the summits of mountains. Be- 
sides Zeus they have from ancient days sacrificed to 
the sun, the moon, the earth, water, winds, and fire, 
which among the Persians is a deity : 4 the winds they 
also charm by songs. When offering sacrifice they 
build no altar and kindle no fire, nor pour libations, nor 
make any use of flutes, or cakes, or barley meal. If 
any one wishes to offer sacrifice he brings the victim 
to an open space, and calls on the god, after crowning 
his tiara with branches of myrtle. After cutting the 
animal in pieces, and cooking the flesh, he spreads out 
the most delicate grass, chiefly trefoil, and lays the 
flesh upon it. The Magian who stands by sings the 
theogony over it, for such, according to the Persians, is 
the nature of the prayer. After some time, the person 
who has made the sacrifice carries the flesh away and 
uses it for a feast. The Magians, in whose control is 

1 " Themistocl." c. 28. a Dinon, Fragm. 9, ed. Muller. 

9 " Cyri Inetit." 8, 1, 21. * Herod. 3, 16. 


the worship by sacrifice, make it a great object to kill 
ants, serpents, and other creeping winged things : dogs 
and men only do they spare. No Persian may pollute 
a river, nor even wash in it, nor will they allow any 
one else to do so, for they have a great reverence for 
rivers. The bodies of the dead may not be burned ; it 
is said indeed that the corpse of a Persian cannot be 
buried till it has been torn by a dog or a bird, and 
among the Magians this is an acknowledged practice. 
It is a meritorious act among the Persians to have many 
children, and he who can show the most receives gifts 
each year from the king. Each man celebrates the day 
on which he was born above all other days. What may 
not be done, may not be spoken of amongst the Persians: 
the most shameful action is lying, and the next to this is 
borrowing, for the reason that a man who has debts is 
generally compelled to lie. Any one afflicted by the 
itch or the leprosy may not come into the cities or mix 
with other Persians ; and it is believed that such persons 
have sinned against the sun-god Lepers from foreign 
lands are driven out of the country." When Xerxes came 
to the Hellespont, and was about to cross the bridge, 
Herodotus represents him as praying to the sun-god, 
pouring libations from a golden cup, and throwing it 
with a golden goblet and a Persian sword into the sea. 1 
We shall see hereafter to what a degree the killing of 
noxious animals, the reverence for rivers, the expulsion 
of lepers, the delight in life and the increase of life, 
the exposing of dead bodies, and singing of the 
theogony at sacrifices, correspond to the rules and 
doctrines of the Avesta. In one point only is Hero- 
dotus mistaken : he states that the Persians worshipped 
a female deity called Mithra. 

1 Herod. 1, 101, 131140; 7, 40, 43, 113, 191'; 3, 84. 


From this array of witnesses belonging to the West 
it follows that the doctrines of the Avesta, and the 
religion of Zarathrustra, were current among the Per- 
sians and in Western Iran at any rate after the beginning 
of the fifth century B.C., and they must therefore have 
been in existence in Eastern Iran at a still earlier date. 
The inscriptions of the Achsemenids prove that the doc- 
trine of the Avesta was maintained among the Persians 
with even greater clearness and for a period more 
ancient. Artaxerxes Ochus prays to Auramazda, Ana- 
hita, and Mithra for their protection, and in like 
manner Artaxerxes Mnemon prays to Auramazda and 
Mithra. In the inscriptions on Mount Behistun, 
Darius I., the son of Hystaspes, styles Auramazda 
"the greatest of the gods" (matfdsta baganam). Be- 
sides Auramazda, " the rest of the gods " are repeatedly 
mentioned, and denoted by the name Baga. Of Aura- 
mazda, Darius and Xerxes say in their inscriptions : 
" A great god is Auramazda ; he has created the 
heaven and the earth ; he has created man and all that 
is good for men." After crushing in the beginning 
of his reign the rebellion of nearly all the lands which 
Cyrus had reduced, Darius repeatedly records his 
thanks : " that Auramazda had granted him assistance ; 
that his army had been victorious by the grace of 
Auramazda." He and his successors acknowledge that 
they have received their throne and their kingdom 
from Auramazda ; by his grace they are kings. 1 The 
reason why Auramazda has assisted him Darius finds 
in the fact that he has not been a "liar," and has 
committed no sin. He entreats Auramazda to protect 
the land against the invasion of hostile armies, against 
blight, and " the lie " (drauga). He asserts that " the 

1 Inscription of Darius at Elvend in Spiegel, " Keilinscriften," s. 
45, 47. 


lie" caused the provinces which had revolted to be 
rebellious, and declares that the land of Persia, which 
Auramazda has granted to him, which is beautiful, rich 
in horses, and well populated, has no fear of enemies 
owing to Auramazda's grace, and his own. He com- 
mends his inscription at Behistun to the protection of 
his successors, with the words : " If thou destroyest not 
this tablet then may Auramazda be thy friend ; may 
thy descendants be numerous, and thy life be long, 
and whatsoever thou undertakest, may Auramazda 
cause it to succeed. But if thou destroyest it, may 
Auramazda smite thee, and thy house perish ; and 
whatever thou doest, may Auramazda render it of no 
effect." l On his tomb Darius says : " What I have 
done I have done by the grace of Auramazda. man, 
this is the prayer of Auramazda ; think no evil, leave 
not the right way, sin not." The inscriptions of 
Xerxes regularly end with the invocation : " May 
Auraraazda protect me, with all the gods ; me, my 
kingdom, and my work." 

As we shall see, the fundamental principle of the 
religion of Zarathrustra is that a supreme god stands 
over all gods, and to him is ascribed the work of 
creation. In entire belief in the power of this 
supreme deity, whom the Achsemenids invoke by the 
name which is given to him in the Avesta, * who has 
created heaven and earth and all that is good for 
meo," Darius ascribes to Auramazda victory in battles, 
the power of granting or refusing success to the king's 
undertakings, of protecting the land against hostile in- 
vasions, blight, and lies. To those who live according 
to his commands he grants long life and numerous 
descendants. The rebellion of the provinces is with 
Darius the work of the lie, the lie of him who had given 
1 Behistun, 4, 7& 80 ; 5661 ; Persep. 


himself out to be the son of Cyrus, and the lie of those 
who had claimed to be the descendants of Nebuchad- 
nezzar and Cyaxares. We have already observed what 
" the lie" meant in the Avesta. In the same spirit 
the spirit of the principal rules of the Avesta Darius 
adjures his Persians to think no evil, and not to leave 
the right path. 

Nicolaus of Damascus assures us that the Persians 
were acquainted with the sayings of Zoroaster. He 
and others relate that Cyrus or his father was called 
Atradates, i. e. given by fire, 1 and that he had given 
to the Areians (p. 11), who provided his famished 
army with sustenance, the honourable title of Oro- 
sangians, i. e. Huverezdnha (benefactors). It is in 
harmony with the doctrine of the Avesta that Cyrus 
should be represented by such a descent or name as the 
gift and nursling of fire, and we shall see with what 
emphasis the Avesta marks and distinguishes good 
thoughts, words, and actions. From these facts and 
the inscriptions of Darius there can be no doubt that 
Zarathrustra's doctrine was current among the Persians 
at the time of Cyrus. But if it was in force in the 
West of Iran in the sixth century B. c. the fact that 
Herodotus, in his account of the period during which 
the Medes obtained the dominion, down to the time of 
Cyrus, speaks of no change in religion, either among 
the Persians or the Medes, is evidence that this re- 
ligion existed at any rate before the time of Phraortes. 
The statement found in Herodotus that Deioces had 
forbidden any one to spit in his presence, reminds 
us of the rules of the Avesta, by which no one was 
allowed to approach the sacred fire and gods with 
uncovered mouth, and on the sculptures of Persepolis 
the bearer of the fan stands with covered mouth 
1 Strabo, p. 719 ; Nicol. Damasc. fragm. 66, od. Miiller. 


beside Darius. The seven walls which Herodotus 
represents Deioces as building round Ecbatana, the 
seven tribes of the Persians, remind us of the seven 
girdles of the earth in the Avesta; the king of the 
Persians surrounded by the six tribal princes is the 
symbol of Auramazda and the six gods who are about 

Hence we may assume that the doctrine of Zara- 
thrustra had reached the West of Iran at the time 
when Phraortes united the tribes of the Medes (about 
650 B.C.), and was known among the Modes when 
they were still living under their tribal chiefs and 
paid tribute to Asshur, or, in case of refusal, were at- 
tacked by the Assyrian armies, which, as we ascertained 
from the inscriptions of the kings of Asshur, was the 
case from the time of Tiglath Pilesar II. to the time of 
Assurbanipal, i. e. from the middle of the eighth to the 
middle of the seventh century B.C. A statement in 
Herodotus seems to lead us still further back. He 
calls the Magians a race or tribe of the Medes. Ac- 
cording to his narrative this tribe was in existence 
in the time of Deioces, i. e. about the year 700 B.C. 
Herodotus could only speak of the Magians as a tribe 
or family when they had become an hereditary order. 
At that time, therefore, there must have been among 
the Medes a priesthood who perpetuated in their 
families their worship by sacrifice, their doctrine and 
wisdom, as well as their social importance. Like 
all Greeks, Herodotus ascribes the discharge of the 
religious functions among the Persians and Medes to 
the Magians, and we find that what Herodotus quotes 
of their rites agrees with the rules of the Avesta. 
The rise and separation of a peculiar order of priests, 
their more or less sharply marked distinction from the 
remaining orders, can never be the work of a short 


space of time, and such separation can only take place 
when the worship of the gods requires a knowledge 
which is not easily accessible or obtainable, when 
doctrine has obtained a place by the side of belief, 
when ritual has become developed, and particular 
duties and rules are prescribed for the life of the 
priests. When the worship of the gods requires the 
use of long and definite prayers, the knowledge of 
complicated usages, on which depends the effect of 
the sacrifices, and the observation of numerous rules of 
purification, such knowledge is only perpetuated in 
families of hierophants or priests, or in schools which 
take the place of such families. The formation of a 
distinct hereditary order on such grounds can hardly 
have occupied less than a century from the time when 
the doctrine, on which it is formed, was introduced. 
Hence we may assume that the doctrine known as 
Zarathrnstra's reached the Medes before the year 
750 B.C., i. e. before the date of Tiglath Pilesar II. of 

Let us hold firmly to the facts that the worship of 
Auramazda was current among the Persians about the 
middle of the sixth century B.C., that the same worship 
was in force among the Medes at least a century 
earlier, about 650 B.C., and that if an hereditary priest- 
hood was in existence about this time among the Medes 
who performed and conducted the worship, the doctrine 
which this priesthood represented must have been 
adopted before the year 750 B.C. In this way we 
obtain a proof that the doctrine of Zarathrustra was 
not only in existence in the East of Iran about the 
year 800 B.C., but was the dominant creed there, and 
had force enough to penetrate to the West, and win over 
the neighbouring tribes of the Medes and Persians. 

We cannot explain more exactly how the doctrine of 


Zarathrustra reached the nations of the West of Iran. 
Pliny, it is true, exclaims : " Who knows the Medes, 
who were taught by Zoroaster, Apusoms, and Zaratus, 
even by hearsay, for no memorials of them are left ?" 1 
According to this the religion of Zoroaster spread 
even in the West by the influence of eminent men 
among the Medes. But the date of the persons men- 
tioned cannot be fixed, though Porphyry represents 
Pythagoras as going to the Chaldaeans and Zahratus, 
by whom he was purified from the evil of his former 
life, and instructed as to the things from which the 
disciple should restrain himself, and about the nature 
and beginning of all things, 2 and this Zaratus or 
Zabratus may be intended for Zarathrustra himself. 
Hermodorus tells us that Zarathrustra had been fol- 
lowed by many Magians as teachers, one after the 
other, down to the time when Alexander marched 
against Persia : these teachers were Osthanes, Astram- 
psychus, Gobryas, and Pazates. 3 Others also assert 
that Zoroaster was followed " by Osthanes and Astram- 
psychus." 4 Pliny observes that so far as he could 
discover, Ostbanes who accompanied Xerxes in the 
war against the Hellenes, was the first who had written 
on the doctrine of the Magians. The second Osthanes, 
whom Alexander had received among his followers, 
had caused this religion to be of great importance. 
From the work of one of these two persons, Philo of 
Byblus quotes a passage the work he calls the 
Octateuch and Pliny notes down apparently some of 
the doctrines of the first Osthanes. If then there were 
men under the Achaemenids in the West of Iran who 
could write on the doctrine of Zarathrustra from the 
beginning of the fifth century B.C., we can without 

i Plin. "H. N." 30, 2; 28, 19. 8 "Vita Pythag." 12. 
8 Diogen. Laert prooem. * Suidas, Mdyoi. 


hesitation believe the statement that long before this 
time there were prophets and teachers of the doctrine 
among the Medes and the Persians. 

Can we go beyond the result thus gained by our 
investigation ? that the doctrine of Zoroaster flourished 
in Eastern Iran about 800 B.C., and advanced towards 
the West from this period ; may we assume that at this 
date it was already in possession of written monuments, 
and even that the fragments of the Avesta which still 
remain were in existence then ? We must first answer 
the question whether the use of writing in Iran, 
especially in the East, goes back so far. 

According to the statements of Herodotus, the West 
of Iran was not only in possession of the art of writing 
by the year 700 B.C., but made considerable use of it. 
He tells us that Deioces required complaints to be 
sent in to him in writing, and gave out his decisions 
also in writing. If processes at law were conducted in 
writing in Media about the year 700 B.C., it cannot be 
surprising that Herodotus should also inform us that 
letters passed between Media and Persia about the 
year 560 B.C. 1 We learn from the Hebrew Scriptures 
that when Cyrus allowed the Jews, whom Nebuchad- 
nezzar had removed to Babylon, to return to their 
homes, he gave his permission for the restoration of 
the temple in writing. This document was afterwards 
discovered in the archives of Ecbatana. 2 We know it 
for a fact that Darius I. gave his orders to the satraps 
in writing, and we are acquainted with the seal of 
Darius by which they were authenticated. The oldest 
inscriptions which have come down to us from the 
Achsemenids, not to mention a seal of Cyrus from 
Senkereh, belong, if not to Cyrus himself, to Darius, 
and begin about the last quarter of the sixth century 

Herod. 1, 100, 124, 125. 2 Ezra, c. v., vi. 


B.C. It is the cuneiform writing of Assyria and 
Babylon which forms the basis of the writing in these 
inscriptions, but with considerable alterations. The 
highly complicated syllabarium of the Eastern Semites 
is reduced to a phonetic system ; we might almost say 
to an alphabet of about 40 letters. A change of this 
kind can hardly have been made at one stroke. If it 
was after they entered into closer combination with 
Assyria, i. e. after their dependence on the king of 
Asshur, which began with the accession of Tiglath 
Pilesar II. (745 B.C.), that the Medes became acquainted 
with the Assyrian system of writing, this must have 
been completely mastered before it could be abbrevi- 
ated and altered, as it was altered by the Medes, 
whose changes were adopted by the Persians. The 
cuneiform writing of Western Iran, as we find it in the 
inscriptions of Darius, can therefore hardly have been 
established before the year COO B.C. However this may 
be, the facts mentioned prove that the writing of the 
Assyrians in the seventh century B.C. was not unknown 
in the West of Iran. This would therefore have 
passed into the East of Iran in its original or simplified 
form, either at some earlier period, or when the East 
came under the dominion of the Achsemenids. But it 
did not, and this is a plain proof that the East, when 
the cuneiform writing of the West came in that 
direction, was already in possession of another kind 
of writing. This Eastern mode of writing, the Arian, 
which rests on an entirely different basis from the 
cuneiform, is first known to us from coins and inscrip- 
tions of the third century B.C. ; but it certainly would 
not have maintained its ground under the Achaemenids 
against the writing of the West, and of the rulers, 
magistrates, and dominant nation, unless it had been 
in vigorous use before this period. We must therefore 


assume that the Arian character was in use in the East 
of Iran a considerable time before the date of Cyrus, 
and hence we have no reason to deny the existence of 
it in that region in the eighth century B.C., since we 
must allow the neighbouring Arians of India to have 
been in possession of their written characters from the 
year 800 B.C. at the least (IV. 155). 

If we may assume that the Arian character was in 
use in the East of Iran about the year 800 B.C., the 
prayers and sayings of Zarathrustra might have been 
written down about this date, and the doctrine might 
have passed on to the West supported by written 
documents. But the fact that the prayers might have 
been written down is in no way a proof that they were 
so written. 

It is true that at first sight it seems that the part of 
the law which has come down to us (the Vendidad) 
leads to the conclusion that it was written down long 
before the Persians gained the dominion over Iran, 
arid Media became a powerful state under Cyaxares. 
The book does not mention the name of the Persians 
or the Medes, of Ecbatana or Persepolis, while Bactria 
is spoken of as the seat of the empire ; the most 
westerly district mentioned in the Vendidad is Ragha 
in Eastern Media. 1 If we add that the book re- 
proaches certain districts in the East, the land of the 
Arachoti and others, with deviations from the doctrine 
of Zarathrustra, and that Ragha is indeed Zoroastrian 
but wavering in its fidelity, we may easily conclude 
that the Vendidad was written when the doctrine of 
Zarathrustra had not as yet thoroughly penetrated the 
East, and was still unknown in the West, when it had 
just reached, but had not yet completely conquered, the 

1 The Nija of the Vendidad is the Eastern Ni^a, Parthorum Nissoa, 
not very far from Morv; above, p. 10, n. 1. 


district of Ragha. The Medes were still dependent on 
Asshur, living separately according to their tribes, Ecba- 
tana was not yet the centre and metropolis of Media, and 
the kingdom of Bactra was still in existence in the East. 
This points to a date about 750 B.C. as the time when 
this doctrine must have spread widely over Media ; at 
any rate to a date before the rise of the Median power, 
i. e. before 650 B.C. This conclusion is not, however, 
absolutely certain. The silence of the Vendidad and 
of the Avesta generally on Ecbatana and Persepolis, 
the Medes and the Persians, can be explained in 
another though a more artificial manner. The nations 
and chief cities of the West were unknown to the 
tradition of Eastern Iran, and the royal abodes of the 
Medes and Persians were not consecrated by the action 
of Zarathrustra. In the accounts given by the Greeks 
of the worship of these nations, in spite of much 
agreement, points are found at variance with the rules 
of the Avesta, and as a fact certain distinctions did 
prevail. The doctrine had arisen in the East, and the 
priesthood there was in possession of the purer and 
more orthodox dogma. If Persia and Media did not 
follow this in all respects, it was convenient to be 
silent about the differences in the time of the Aohae- 
menids, or if any one desired to brand them, to mark out 
the Median Ragha as the seat of heresy, rather than 
Pasargadse or Persepolis. This explanation it is true 
is somewhat far fetched. The result that the religion 
known by the name of Zarathrustra had reached the 
Medes and Persians by the middle of the eighth 
century B.C. is in no way weakened by it, though the 
assumption that at this period written documents of 
this doctrine were in existence, and that the book 
of the law of which we have fragments arose in 
the first half of the eighth century B.C., is rendered 


more doubtful if such a mode of interpretatioD is 

The forms of language preserved in the Avesta 
have not survived with sufficient distinctness to 
assist us in fixing the time at which it was writ- 
ten down. As was shown above (p. 65), the manu- 
scripts date from the later period of the Sassanids ; 
they are written in the later East-Pehlevi character, 
and at a time when the old forms must have under- 
gone changes owing to the language which had come 
into use in the mean time, and can in fact be proved to 
have undergone them. The old sounds are obviously 
modified and confounded, 1 so that the language of the 
Avesta, when compared with that of the inscriptions of 
the Achaemenids, exhibits forms less ancient and fixed, 
and indeed in some cases it is more recent than the 
language of the legends of the Grseco-Bactrian coins 
(p. 27). Nor can any certain conclusions be drawn 
from the condition of political and social life shown in 
the Avesta. It is only the splendour of regal power 
in general, the old sacrificers, heroes, and kings that are 
extolled in it ; a sacrificial prayer to Mithra speaks of 
the abode of the Arians, where " horse-guiding rulers 
govern noble troops ; " for the rest we hear only of 
lords of villages, of tribes or cantons, and provinces, and 
of three orders into which the people are divided. 
The Vendidad, it is true, reckons by winters and 
nights, not by years and days ; the amount of fines 
and punishments is computed in animals, goats, sheep, 
oxen, horses, or camels ; and these facts point to an 
ancient period, but they may have been handed down by 
tradition. We also hear of the value of these animals 
and of money (s/iaefa). 2 This is the less surprising as 

1 Lepsius, " Ueber das ursprungliche Zendalphabet," Abh. B. Akad. 
1862, s. 298, 306, 381. 2 " Vendid." 4, 120 ; Astad Yasht, 1. 



the Vcndidad speaks of palaces and pillars and various 
works of art, and mentions smelting-ovens and even 
ovens for making glass. We found that the Greek 
princes of Bactria struck square coins, which they 
would not have done if this had not been the traditional 
form in Bactria (p. 28). The Achaemenids did not 
strike coins of this kind, and this shape must therefore 
have come down from a period anterior to them. The 
frequent mention of the physician, on the other hand, 
ought not to be regarded as a proof of later composi- 
tion, for we hear of the physician and his remedies in 
ancient poems of the Veda (IV. 35). 

In regard to the antiquity of the Avesta, then, we 
can only build upon the simple facts that it cannot 
have been written down for the first time when the 
Buddhists found adherents in Bactria (IV. 542), or 
when the kingdom of the Greek princes arose in 
Bactria, or when the Seleueidae and Alexander, before 
them, reigned over Iran. It has been proved that the 
Avesta was in existence before Alexander overthrew 
the kingdom of the Achaemenids. The series of the 
successors of Zarathrustra, which western writers could 
trace backwards from this point Osthanes II., Pazates, 
Gobryas, Osthanes I., Astrampsychus, Apusodorus 
plainly shows that even under the Achaemenids the 
West was seriously occupied with religious questions. 
As Osthanes I. had written on the doctrine of Zoro- 
aster about the time of Xerxes (p. 92), it is at 
least more probable than not that the Avesta was 
already in existence at that time. If in the West 
there was a series, and as the Greeks point out, a 
continuous series, of priestly teachers, round whom 
naturally pupils and schools grew up, and after the 
beginning of the fifth century a theological literature, 
similar teachers and schools must have existed long 


before in the East, and this greatly strengthens the con- 
clusion drawn from the contents of the Vendidad, that 
it must have been written down before the rise of the 
Medes. But for any more precise determination of the 
date of the Avesta between the two limits obtained the 
year 750 B.C., i. e. the beginning of the formation of a 
priesthood in the West and the contemporary use of 
writing in the East, and the year 350 B.C. we are 
confined wholly to internal evidence. 

Scriptures of such extent as the Avesta is shown to 
have been, by the accounts of the Greeks and Arabs, 
and the list of contents (p. 51), and the existing 
fragments, could not have been written down at once 
or within a brief space of time. We saw (p. 33) 
that it set up a religious canon, which not only regu- 
lated the doctrine and the worship, the duties of priests 
and laity, but also comprised the law, and in a word all 
the relations of life. A codification of this kind is 
only possible when belief and doctrine, culture and 
ritual, have arrived at fixed and complete formulae, 
have been arranged in a system and developed, and 
the consequences bearing on life, morality, and law 
have been drawn from them by an active and influen- 
tial priesthood. Hence before the Avesta was written 
down and collected there must have been a priestly 
order in the East, in the circles of which the doctrine 
and practice went through this developing, revising, 
and fixing process. Various sketches, lists of prayers 
for certain offerings, collections of rules belonging to 
this or that priesthood or school, must have been in 
existence, and combinations of the traditional material 
must have been made, before a canon comprising the 
whole wisdom of the priests, and far exceeding in 
extent the law of Manu, could have been compiled. 

Among the existing invocations of the Avesta we 

II 2 


find sacrificial prayers of a primitive character; but 
the greater part of the prayers and thanksgivings are 
without religious feeling or poetical power, and very 
far removed from the richness and abundance, the 
beauty and freshness of conception, which streams 
through the majority of the hymns of the Veda. 
There are not wanting naive and poetical pieces which 
have obviously been handed down and preserved by 
their use at sacrifices, but these are frequently spoiled 
by later interpolations, and the form of the whole is 
generally dry and prosaic. We find but scanty relics 
of any vigorous conception of the gods, of a living 
mythology ; on the whole the mythical element is faded, 
and the sacrifice of animals thrown into the background. 
The greater part of the prayers receive their value 
from a certain system and completeness ; the object is 
to bring forward all the characteristics of the deity to 
which they are addressed, and to invoke him by all 
his names. Thus laudations and epithets are repeated 
without end. A good many of the prayers are mere 
nomenclatures, and repeat the same forms in varying 
order. Besides this tendency, which is far removed 
from the original simplicity of religious meditation, a 
value is ascribed to the repetition of certain prayers. 
Some are to be said a hundred, or a thousand times. 
In the same way the liturgies are long and full of 
detail, and sometimes take the form of responses 
between the celebrant and the ministering priest ; 
they are extremely careful to neglect none of the 
heavenly spirits or genii, or to injure them by omission, 
or treat them with less respect than others. 

Beside the faded colours of the mythology, the 
decreasing importance of animal sacrifice, and the 
formalism of the prayers, we observe in the five 
Gathas, the invocations which alone have preserved the 


verse-measure, and present older forms of language 
than the rest, a tendency to speculation. Not only 
are the good and evil spirits combined under one head, 
as is always the case in the Avesta, but the Gathas 
attempt to resolve the contrast of the beneficial and 
harmful sides of nature, of the good and evil spirits, 
into the reciprocal play of two fundamental forces ; 
they identify the prosperity and destruction of nature 
with moral good and evil, and combine the one with 
truth, the other with falsehood. The good spirits are 
the truth, the evil are the lie. The life of appearance 
and of falsehood is distinguished from the true life, 
and the service of truth promises life not in this world 
only but in the next. It is in harmony with these 
tendencies to abstraction that, according to other pas- 
sages of the Avesta, heaven is filled with a multitude 
of the most lifeless personifications of ideas and real- 
ities. Could the doctrine of a new religion in an 
early period come forward with such a spiritualised 
system, with such elevated moral demands, such ab- 
stract conceptions ? Could prayers of such a kind 
have been composed or written down in a primitive 

The existing fragment of the book of the law is 
composed in the form of a dialogue, and is for the 
most part filled with conversations which Zarathrustra 
carries on with Auramazda. Zarathrustra inquires 
what is to be done in certain cases against the evil 
spirits, the Daevas, on the commission of certain sins 
and impurities. What must be done when a woman is 
in labour, etc., or when any one has made himself impure 
by touching a corpse, or has slain a water-dog (otter) ? 
Is the rain impure which has fallen on a corpse and 
then runs ofF from it, etc. ? These questions Aura- 
mazda answers very precisely, and when it is a matter 


for expiation and purification, he fixes the number of 
stripes with the horse-whip or the whip of the sacred 
Qraosha (Qraosha-charana) which the penitent is to re- 
ceive. It is a theory and practice of purity, on a level 
with the analogous rules in the laws of Manu, and in 
some points even more subtle and casuistical. The 
offences have already been brought under definite cate- 
gories, and in like manner the purifications and punish- 
ments fall into a number of distinct classes. Not only 
are expiations required for all sins and prescribed down 
to the minutest details, but the offences must also 
be repented of; certain formulae of confession and 
repentance are prescribed. 

We need not stop to prove that a book of laws 
in this form could not have been written down a priori. 
The rules for punishment and purification must have 
grown up in long practice, before they could be put 
in the mouth of the deity ; difficulties and doubts 
must have been weighed before solutions could be 
proposed. The book contains the dialogues and in- 
quiries which were held in the schools of the priests on 
questions of this kind, the practice which prevailed 
in the schools and the catechisation of the pupils. 
The answer is naturally placed in the mouth of Aura- 
mazda, for it was the answer which he once gave to 
the question when asked by Zarathrustra. The frag- 
ments of the Vendidad are a catechism, the result 
of the labour of the priestly schools, a system of rules 
and regulations which marks and postulates the same 
stage of development for Iran as was reached for the 
Indians on the Ganges by the law of Manu. Many 
periods in the religious life must have been passed 
through before the religious consciousness was no longer 
shocked by the fact that the supreme deity in person 
answered petty questions of ritual, and dictated in 


the most exact gradation and with regard to every 
possible variety of circumstance, the number of stripes 
required for the criminals. 

This faded mythology and formalised worship, these 
speculative attempts and casuistry of law, are accom- 
panied by a completely- arranged scheme of certain 
abstract categories already established. Throughout the 
whole Avesta runs the division between this world 
and the next, between the corporeal and incorporeal 
world, truth and falsehood, and the triple distinction of 
thinking, speaking, and acting, of thought, word, and 
deed. And when we further consider that rewards are 
attached to the reading of sections of the Avesta, that 
the " long study " of the " thoughts of the pure man," 
" be excellent knowledge, thought, and conception " 
are praised and invoked as divine powers, no one will 
be inclined to see in the Avesta the product of naive 
religious feeling, or the deposit of a priestly civilisation 
which is as yet in its early stages. 

Still, if we wish to avoid making any false steps in 
the conclusions to be drawn from the nature of the 
Avesta about the time of its composition, we must 
bear in mind that it contains some conceptions which 
are the exact opposite of the characteristics just 
noticed. The myth of Yima, the form of Mithra, 
the descent of plants, prove older traits in the Avesta 
than we find in the Veda ; the old gods still occupy 
a large space beside Auramazda and the abstract 
forms of heaven, and strict unity of system is not yet 
attained. "VVe must remember also at what an early 
date the neighbours of Eastern Iran, the Ariaus of India, 
arrived at meditation and abstraction ; how quickly and 
entirely they allowed animal sacrifice to pass into the 
background ; with what breadth and detail they 
developed the rules for purification ; how numerous 


were the daily prayers and repetitions, before the 
religious feeling became weakened. In the Avesta the 
time without limit is frequently invoked ; among the 
Indians the gods of light are even in the oldest hymns 
of the Veda the sons of Aditi, i. e. of the Eternal or 
the Infinite. And if the attitude of the A vesta is for the 
most part by far more flat and prosaic than that of the 
Veda, the Arians of Iran were of a more logical nature, 
and the glow of imagination which the land of the 
Ganges kindled in their kindred tribes did not exist in 


Iran. For this reason the consideration of the char- 
acter of the Avesta can only lead us to the result that 
a period of several centuries must have elapsed between 
the rise of the religion named after Zarathrustra and 
the writing down of the Avesta ; that lists of prayers 
and rubrics must have been in existence about the year 
800 B.C. ; that the extensive books which then formed 
the Avesta may have been written in the first half of 
the period, which we ascribed to them, extending from 
750 to 350 B.C. In any case we can maintain that 
the Gathas were composed, and that the Avesta existed 
in its essential parts in the East of Iran, before Cyrus 
put the empire of the Persians in the place of the 
empire of the Medes, and all the various parts were 
collected together before the " Enlightened " began to 
preach on the Ganges, i. e. about the year 600 B.C. 

We have already remarked the importance which 
the Aehaemenids ascribed to the possession of Bactria 
(p. 23) ; and we were able at any rate to guess at the 
civilisation of that district about the year 500 B.C., from 
the amount of the tribute imposed upon it by Darius. 
That the economic civilisation was not behind the 
material was shown by indications in the Avesta. The 
kingdom which grew up there, as we saw (p. 47), 
long before the days of the Medes, and in which about 


the year 800 B.C. the doctrine of Zarathrustra was 
current, succumbed to Cyrus, the great founder of the 
Persian empire. If we place the beginning of the doc- 
trine of Zarathrustra, which first made its appearance 
there, before the middle of the ninth century B.C., at 
which time the armies of Shalmanesar II. reached the 
East of Iran, and assume that it came forward about 
1000 B c., we shall hardly place its rise too high. We 
remember that about this time occurred the great 
change in the religious conceptions of the Arians in 
India, the repression and degradation of the old gods 
by Brahman. It was an analogous development when 
the good and evil spirits of Bactria were combined into 
unities, and placed under leaders, when the chief of 
the deities of light was made the creator of the heaven 
and the earth, and surrounded with abstract forms, 
which contest the traditional place and honour of the 
old god. It is the same religious impulse, the desire 
to grasp the unity of the divine nature, the same line 
of combination that we observed in its beginning and 
progress in India, which comes to the surface in the 
doctrine of Zarathrustra. We have no reason to con- 
test with the Avesta the fact that Vista9pa ruled over 
Bactria when this change took place, or that Zara- 
thrustra, a man of the race of Haechata9pa, gave the 
impulse to the reform, and that the leading idea in it 
belongs to him. If Vistaypa ruled over Bactria about 
the year 1000 B.C. the growth of the Bactrian monarchy 
must be placed at least a century before this time, i. e. 
about the year 1100 B.C. 



THE examination of the traditions of the East and 
West has simply led to the confirmation of the result, 
which we gain from the Avesta that the name and 
the doctrine of Zarathrustra belong to Bactria. With 
regard to the antiquity of the doctrine, the inscrip- 
tions of Darius and the statements of the Greeks 
allowed us to draw the conclusion that it became cur- 
rent and dominant in Bactria about the year 800 B.C. ; 
and from the analogy of the development of the Arians 
on both sides of the Ganges we assumed that it was 
possible to place the date of Zarathrustra himself about 
two centuries earlier. That the Arians of Iran were 
not without gods and religious worship before Zara- 
thrustra, if the fact needed proof, might be shown 
from the statements in the Avesta regarding the time 
previous to Zarathrustra. The examination of the 
legends of this time established kindred forms and 
traits in the Avesta and the Veda, and if, following 
this path further, we find in the Avesta views of the 
nature and character of the gods corresponding to 
those of the Veda, we might be confident in regarding 
them as the traditional possession of the Arians, and 
their earliest forms of religion. If, in fine, the coin- 
cidence of the Avesta with the Veda, on the one hand, 


and with the accounts of the Greeks on the other, 
extended to all the essential points in the doctrine and 
the law, the question stated above whether in the 
restoration of the canon of the sacred writings in the 
midst of the fourth century of our era, under king 
Shapur II., the A vesta underwent material alterations, 
would have to be answered in the negative. 

The poems of the Veda showed us in what directions 
the religious feeling of the Indians in the Panjab 
moved. Drought, gloom, and night were numbered 
among the injurious forces ; the clear sky, the light, 
and fertilising water were beneficent. The high spirits 
of light, which gave new courage to the heart each 
morning, and exhibited the world in fresh brilliance, 
were praised with thanksgivings ; the spirits of the 
highest heaven, Mitra and Varuna, the guardians of 
the world, the protectors of purity and justice, were 
invoked earnestly, but less frequently than the war- 
like victorious god who gave water, the god of storm 
and tempest, who defeated the demons which obscured 
the sky and wished to carry away the water (IV. 48). 
His comrades in the fight were the morning wind 
which drove away the clouds of night, the winds 
which shattered the gloomy clouds, and swept them 
from the sky. The spirit of fire, who by his brilliant 
glow in the darkness of night kept off the beasts of 
prey and fiends, who gathered men round the hearth, 
and summoned the gods to the sacrifice, and carried 
up to them the food of the sacrifice, received zealous 
worship in the hymns of the Veda. 

We can call to mind the invocations of the Rigveda 
to Ushas, the goddess of the dawn, who drives forth 
on the sky with red cows ; to Surya and Savitar, the 
spirits of the sun (IV. 45, 46). In the Avesta, prayers 
are addressed to Ushahina and Hvare Kshaeta, the 


bright sun-god. Ushahina is here the pure spirit of 
the celestial dawn, " who is possessed of bright horses." 
Of the sun -god we are told : " Mount, bright sun, with 
thy swift horses, and shine for all creatures on the way 
which Auramazda has created in the air, the way rich 
in water which the gods have created ; >M just as in the 
Veda the sun is invoked to approach on his ancient 
firm paths in the air, which are free from dust (IV. 46). 
Sacrifice is offered to the sun, according to the Avesta, 
when he rises above Hara berezaiti (the divine moun- 
tain). 2 The prayer to Mithra is as follows : " To the 
mighty Yazata (*. e. the worthy of prayer), the strong 
one, who brings good, will I offer sacrifice with liba- 
tions; I will encompass him with songs of thanks- 
giving. With libations we offer sacrifice to Mithra, 
the lord of wide pastures, who speaketh true things, the 
wise one, comely in shape, of a thousand ears and ten 
thousand eyes, standing on a broad tower, strong, sleep- 
less, and watchful, who mounts above Hara berezaiti 
before the immortal sun, the.guider of horses he who 
first in a form of gold ascends the beautiful summits. 
For him the creator Auramazda has prepared a dwell- 
ing above Hara berezaiti, where is neither night, nor 
darkness, nor winds chilling nor scorching, nor the cor- 
ruption of the slain ; no filth created of demons nor 
vapours ascend Hara berezaitl From thence the giver 
of good beholds the abode of the Arians, whose horse- 
guiding lords govern splendid hosts, whose high moun- 
tains, rich in water and in pastures, supply nourishment 
for the ox, where are deep lakes with broad streams, 
and wide navigable rivers burst forth in tumult, on 
Iskata and Pourata, 8 on Mouru (Merv), Haraeva 

1 "Gah Ushahin," 5; "Mihr Yasht," 13, 143. 

2 "Mihr Yasht," 118. 

3 Pouruta may be referred to the Hapv^rai of Ptolemy, whom he 
places in the north of Arachosia. 


(p. 1 1), and Gao, Qughdha (Sogdiana), and Hvairiza(Cho- 
aresm). Where first they sacrifice to him, there Mithra, 
the lord of wide pastures, descends with the victorious 
wind. From anguish and pain, Mithra, carry us, 
undeceived. Come to us for our protection ; come to us 
with joy ; come to us with mercy ; come to us with heal- 
ing; come to us with purification, the mighty, the strong, 
the all-knowing, the tamer of dragons, the undeceived. 
Never lulled to sleep, Mithra protects with his weapon 
the creatures of Auramazda. On him the lord of the 
land, of the canton, the village, the house, calls for 
help with uplifted hands, whose voice of woe, whether 
his voice be loud or soft, reaches up to the stars and 
down to the earth. He to whom Mithra is favourable, 
to him he cometh with aid ; but with whomsoever he 
is angry he destroys his house and village and canton 
and land, and the glory of the land. Mithra gives 
swift horses to those who do not deceive him ; to the 
habitation in which he is satisfied he gives troops of 
cattle and men. The fire of Auramazda gives the 
straightest path to those who do not deceive Mithra. 
But if the lord of the house, the village, the canton, 
the land deceives him, then Mithra in anger destroys 
house and village, canton and land. Not all evil deeds, 
not all deception, are seen by Mithra, saith the wicked 
man. But Mithra sees all that is between heaven and 
earth. With ten thousand eyes he beholds the man 
who hates and deceives him. His long arms with the 
might of Mithra grasp what is in Eastern India 
(Hendu), and what is in Western, and what is in the 
midst of this earth. The swiftest deceivers of Mithra 
do not reach the goal ; they do not escape on horse- 
back, nor reach the goal in chariots. 

" Mithra, the lord of lands, whose countenance beams 
like the star Tistrya, travels forth to the right end of 


the earth from the brilliant Garonmana (the abode of 
the gods), equipped with golden helmet, and silver 
coat of mail, with sharp long-shafted lance and swing- 
ing arrow, on a beautiful chariot with a golden wheel 
and silver spokes, which four white horses draw, their 
fore -hoofs shod with gold, their hinder hoofs with 
silver, harnessed in the yoke which is bent over them. 
In his hand is a club with a hundred studs, and a hun- 
dred blades, heavy at the end, making havoc of men ; 
bound with brass on the handle, mighty and golden, 
the strongest and most victorious of weapons. Before 
him goes Verethraghna in the form of a boar, sharp of 
tusk, fat, enraged, striking at once with feet, claws, tail, 
and back of brass. 1 Next to him goes the kindled fire, 
the strong, royal grace. As a protection of the chariot 
are a thousand bows of bone, whose strings are made 
of the sinews of oxen, a thousand arrows plumed with 
feathers of the Kahrka9a, with golden points and 
wooden shafts, and flakes of bone and iron, a thou- 
sand lances with sharp points, a thousand missiles of 
copper, a thousand two-edged swords. Strong as spirits 
they travel onward, strong as spirits they fall on the 
skulls of the Daevas. 

" Before him of a truth, Angromainyu (the evil 
spirit) trembles, the deadly one ; before him trembles 
Aeshma, the wicked-minded, and body-destroying ; 
before him trembles Bushyan9ta, the long of hand, 
and all invisible Daevas and the sinners from Varena. 
When the evil one, who works wickedness, runs forth 
with swift step, Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, 
swiftly harnesses his chariot, and Qraosha, the pure 
and strong, and Nairyocangha, the herald, beats him 
and his ranks. When Mithra comes where the lands 

1 C " Mihr Yasht," 127, where the boar is not Verethraghna but 
the " curse of the sage." 


are against him (i. e. do not honour him) he brings down 
his club on horse and rider. Against them he brings 
mighty destruction and terror ; he bears away the 
heads of the men who deceive Mithra. Their arrows, 
swift-feathered, sent swiftly forth by the string from 
the well-stretched bow, strike the air only ; the lances, 
sharp and running out with long shafts from the arm, 
strike the air only ; the missiles from the strings strike 
the air only ; the well-directed swords and well-slung 
clubs beat the air only ; meanwhile, angry, enraged, 
and not propitiated, Mithra approaches, the lord of 
wide pastures. Thou, Mithra, angry and mighty, 
takest the force from their arms ; thou takest the force 
from their arms, and the sight from their eyes, and 
the hearing from their ears. The wind carries away 
the lances which the opponents of Mithra throw ; even 
though he throws well and hits the body he inflicts 
no wound. Standing on the field of battle Mithra 
annihilates the ranks ; the wings quake, and he makes 
the centre to tremble. They say: Our war-horses were 
led away by Mithra ; by him were our strong arms 
and swords annihilated. Mithra scares men before 
and behind ; Qraosha, the pure, assists in slaying on 
all sides. Mithra sweeps them away, slaying them by 
fifties and by hundreds ; by hundreds and by thou- 
sands ; by thousands and tens of thousands, and with- 
out number. We cannot sustain the weight of the 
angry lord who with the force of a thousand meets the 
foe ; who dashes on in his rage, and rests not from 
the slaughter ; who destroys all at a blow. May not 
the mightiest, the swiftest, the most victorious of the 
Yazatas fall upon us. Come to our help, Mithra, high 
lord, when the arrow hisses aloud and the horse neighs 
in his nostrils, and the missiles whizz, and the strings 
speed forth the sharp, bony arrows. Whomsoever 


Mithra protects, him the well-sharpened lance cannot 
reach, nor the arrow flying past him. 

" In his might Mithra approaches ; in power he goes 
forth to dominion, and beholding from afar directs his 
glance with his eyes. Thou protectest the lands which 
seek after the beneficence of Mithra, lord of wide pas- 
tures ; thou destroyest the lands which are wicked. 
Mithra, lord of wide pastures, master of the house, of 
the villages, the land ! let us be protectors of thy 
fields, not the destroyers of them. As the sun arises 
above Hara berezaiti so may I obtain my desires over 
the evil Angromainyu. With uplifted arms, Mithra, 
the lord of wide pastures, conveys us to immortality. 
With sacrifice named by name, with becoming speech, 
strong Mithra, will I make offerings to thee with 
libations. Listen, Mithra, to our sacrifice. Come to 
our sacrifice ; come to our libations. Carry them away 
to the place of meeting (chinvai) ; deposit them in 
Garonmana. Thou,0 Mithra, art the saviour and helper 
of lands and men. Thou makest the dwellings, from 
which impurity is removed, famous for women and 
chariots. Thou hast power over the peace and the 
disquiet of lands ; prosperous art thou in the battle, 
and strong. Give us the gifts for which we entreat 
thee ; abundance and power, prosperity and purity, 
renown and bravery, and victory given by Ahura, the 
overwhelming power of the highest purity (asha va/iis/a), 
and instruction in the sacred word, that so we may 
slay all enemies and haters, and annihilate the hate of 
men and Daevas, of magicians and Pairikas, of the 
violent, blind, and deaf. Stretch out thy widely grasp- 
ing hand, O Mithra ; thou art the protector of the 
dwelling, and of them that deceive not. Protect us 
in both worlds, the corporeal and incorporeal, from the 
evil death, the evil Aeshina, the evil hosts, who seek 


to raise their cruel banners, from the attacks which 
Aeshma may make with Vidhatu the Daeva-created." 1 
The modern traits which have been introduced into 
this poem are easily distinguished and removed. The 
relation in which Mithra is placed to Auramazda, the 
chief of the good spirits, to the corporeal and incorporeal 
world and the maintenance of the law, to Rashnu, 
the spirit of justice, and other spirits of an abstract 
nature, and to the instruction in the sacred word, are 
like the " Western and Eastern India," obviously of the 
later origin. Setting them aside, the old form of the 
god of light of the Arians in Iran meets us in vigorous 
and powerful outlines. Indeed we have here more 
original conceptions of Mithra than in the Veda, and 
find that idea of the god which formed part of the yet 
undivided stock of the Arians in Iran and on the 
Indus (IV. 51). In the Avesta Mithra is still in direct 
conflict with the evil spirits, from which in the Veda 
he is displaced by the storm-god, who first came into 
prominence in the Panjab. That Mithra was once 
the supreme deity of the Arians of Iran, is clear, not 
only from his position as the most victorious opponent 
of the demons, but also from the difficulty which the 
Avesta betrays in more than one passage of subordin- 
ating him to Auramazda, who subsequently became 
supreme, and establishing the precedence of the latter. 
In Mithra's habitation it is never night. Highest of 
the spirits of light, he goes before the sun, and first 
plants himself on the summits of the mountains. He 
is the mightiest warrior against night and the spirits 
of night who tremble before him. His light overpowers 
and destroys them. Thus he is able to give victory 
in the battle to the army which worships him in 

1 Windischmann, " Mithra ; Abhl. fur Kundo dee Morgenlandes," 
1,1 ft 

VOL. V. I 


truth ; the host with which he fights he fills with 
courage and power ; that with which he is angry he 
fills with terror, and causes their arrows to fly forth 
ill vain. In brilliant armour he travels onward, his 
club in his hand ; before him is victory, and beside 
him is fire. Mithra's club is called Vazra, Indra's club 
is Vajra ; the word is the same, the distinction is due to 
the change of sound which separates the old Bactrian 
from the language of the Veda and Sanskrit. 1 Lord 
of the lands and nations, he looks down on the abode 
of the Arians ; most brilliant of deities, he sees all 
that is between heaven and earth. He cannot be 
deceived and beguiled ; the most secret wickedness is 
not hidden from him ; the swiftest criminal does not 
escape from him, and the strongest succumbs to his 
anger. God of purity and truth, he watches over 
purity and truth among men, punishes falsehood, 
rewards justice and fidelity ; he blesses the nations and 
houses which worship him with goodly increase in 
men and flocks. 

We saw what importance the Veda ascribed to the 
conquest over Vritra, the cloud serpent, the black 
demon. The Arians in Iran also are acquainted with 
the slaying of Vritra. The prayer to Mithra represents 
Verethraghna as going before Mithra's victorious car 
(p. 110). Verethraghna means slayer of Verethra, or 
Vritra, and is the same word as Vritrahan. Hence 
the attribute of Indra, which denotes the most import- 
ant achievement among his actions, is among the 
Iranians an independent spirit. As the club of Indra 
belongs in the A vesta to Mithra, so is Verethraghua 
his companion. No doubt at one time Mithra had him- 
self the surname Verethraghna in Iran, the attribute 

1 Haug, "Essays," p. 185. The Sassanids also carry the club now 
called guzr. 


ignifying the conqueror of the worst and strongest of 
the evil spirits. But just as in the Panjab, owing to 
the tropical storms of that region, the form of Vritra 
came into prominence, and with it the form of Indra, 
so in the Avesta did Verethraghna fade away when 
separated from Mithra. Here Verethraghna is only 
the victorious strength, the conquest and slaughter 
of the enemy, victory itself. Verethraghna is the 
best armed of the heavenly spirits, the strongest in 
might, the most victorious. Yet even in the Avesta 
the Soma is offered to Verethraghna before the battle, 
as in the Veda it is offered to Indra. Auramazda 
says to Zarathrustra : " When the armies meet in 
battle, the orderly ranks are not defeated in which 
sacrifice is liberally offered to Verethraghna, whom 
Ahura created. The Arian lands should offer him 
sacrifice, and strew sacrificial branches for him. They 
should offer beasts to him, bright and gold-coloured." 
" To him the pure Zarathrustra offered sacrifice, and 
Verethraghna came to him in the form of a strong 
wind, in the form of a beautiful bull with golden ears 
and golden hoofs, in the form of a shining horse, of 
a large, biting, and fierce camel, in the form of a boar 
with strong tusks (as also in the prayer to Mithra), in 
the form of a youth, in the fprm of a man carrying a 
sword with a golden handle, in the form of the swift- 
est and largest of birds, in the form of a ram, and a 
fighting goat. And Verethraghna gave Zarathrustra 
strength of arms, health and vigour of body, and 
power of vision, like that of the horse which sees 
in the night, and the gold-coloured vulture." In the 
battle Verethraghna hastens through the ranks and 
inquires with Mithra and Rashnu : " Who lies against 
Mithra ? to whom shall I give death and destruction, 
for I have the power ? " " Verethraghna, the created of 

I 2 


Ahura, the bearer of splendour, I will praise " such 
is a prayer in the Avesta " with audible praise, with 
offering. To Verethraghna will 1 sacrifice. I will bring 
Haoma in order that I may conquer this army, which 
comes up behind me. Verethraghna holds back the 
hands of the ranks of the men who lie against Mithra ; 
he veils their sight, and dulls their ears, and suffers not 
their feet to advance. Verethraghna brings the ranks 
together in battle ; he destroys the ranks, and annihil- 
ates them." 1 

In the Veda, the winds, the swift and strong Maruts, 
aided Indra against the demons ; Vayu, i. e. the 
blowing, the morning wind which chases away the 
dark clouds, was Indra's charioteer (IV. 49). In the 
Avesta also, Vayu, who blows before the morning 
light and the sun, and scares away the goblins of the 
night, who first drinks " the Soma draught at the 
morning sacrifice," takes a prominent position, and 
under his Vedic name. The heroes of ancient days 
cried aloud to Vayu for victory, and he brought help 
to them all. He is the strongest of the strong, the 
swiftest of the swift, girded up and active, higher in 
stature, broader in the hips and shoulders, than the 
rest of the gods. He sits on a golden throne (p. 35) ; 
wears a golden helmet, golden armour, a girdle and 
neckband of gold, and rides on a golden chariot. He 
says to Zarathrustra : " 1 am called the beneficent, 
because I do good for Auramazda. I am called the 
pure, the strong- winged, the mightiest, the swiftest, the 
powerful for defeat, the expeller of the Daevas. I am 
called the Hurling one, the Biting one, the sharp 
lance, the flashing lance. 1 am called the Conqueror. 
These names must thou invoke at the shock of the 

1 " Yasht Bahrain," 57 62. Burnouf, " Commentaire BUI le Ya<;na," 
p. 285. 


ranks in battle, in the stress of the conflict." 1 In the 
Avesta, as we saw, Verethragna also appears in the 
form of the wind. The " pure swift winds," the air, 
" which works on high, which purifies the heaven 
from the right hand," are frequently invoked ; the 
" strong wind, created by Ahura," brings the rain- 
clouds which Tistrya (p. 120) has liberated over the 
earth ; the wind carries away the lances, which those 
hurl who are hostile to Mithra. We saw above, how 
the Bactrians were defeated by Artaxerxes I., " because 
the wind blew in their faces " (p. 25). If in the 
Avesta, in accordance with the character of the 
doctrine, the purifying force of the winds and fresh 
air is made prominent, the other traits quoted are 
sufficient to permit us to recognise the original concep- 
tion formed by the Iranians of the spirits of the winds. 
The pure waters, the well-flowing, the waters of the 
springs, pools, and rivers are often mentioned in the 
Avesta and highly extolled. As with the Arians in 
India, so in the Avesta, the great waters are placed high 
up in the sky. The stars contain the seed of water ; just 
as among the Arians in India certain constellations at the 
appearance of which rain fell, were considered to be the 
home of the waters. In the Avesta also the water of 
the sky is the source and origin of the waters on earth. 
In that book a female deity is the guardian of these 
waters, the goddess Ardviyura Anahita, i. e. the lofty, 
stainless one, " to whom Auramazda gave the waters in 
charge." She is at one and the same time the source 
of the heavenly water, which springs up on the golden 
height of Hukairya, the summit of the divine moun- 
tain, and the spirit of this source and of the water 
coming from it. At the height of a thousand men, 
the spring Ardvi9ura flows down from the golden 

* "Earn YashV'43 57. 


Hukairya ; it has a thousand basins, and a thousand 
streams, each stream is forty days' journey in length 
for an active traveller. 1 The goddess who pours out this 
water is a strong, well-grown maiden of brilliant coun- 
tenance, and beautiful arms, which are more brilliant 
and larger than horses. On her brow she bears a 
golden diadem, adorned with a hundred stars ; she has 
golden ear-rings and neck- band, a flowing lower garment 
with many folds of gold, and golden shoes on her feet. 
Her breasts fall down over her girdle ; her upper robe 
is of bright otter skins, t. e. of the smooth skins of the 
animal of the water. She carries a golden Paitidana, 
and holds the reins of her chariot which is drawn by 
four white beasts of draught. The deity of the water 
of the sky is in the Avesta the most beneficent of the 
goddesses ; the source of water is also the source of 
fruitfulness and life. She cleanses the seed of men, 
and gives a happy delivery to women ; those who are 
with child entreat her assistance. To men she gives 
swift horses and strong comrades, if duly invoked and 
worshipped. We have already seen how the heroes 
of old days, Yima, Thraetaona, Kere9a9pa, Kava l^a, 
Kava Huyrava, Vista9pa, sacrificed horses, cows, and 
smaller cattle to Ardvi9ura, in order to win victory 
over the evil spirits, the dragons, the giants, and the 
enemies of Iran (p. 32, 34 ff.). Zarathrustra asks the 
stainless Ardvi9ura what sacrifice he must offer to her, 
in order that Auramazda may not hold back his course 
in the height above the sun, that serpents may not 
injure the water by their sweat and poison. And 
Ardvi9ura gave command that prayer and sacrifice 
should be offered to her from the ascent of the sun till 
daybreak ; the sacrifice was to be consumed by the 
sacrificers and priests in honour of the goddess ; the 
1 " Aban Yasht," 64 ff. ; " Ya<jna," 74. 


impure, blind, dumb, and all afflicted with infirmities 
were to be kept far from it. " Come to me, come down, 
Ardviyura," is the invocation, " from the stars to the 
earth which Auramazda made ; to thee, the excellent, 
mighty lords of the lauds, the sons of the lords of the 
lauds, will offer sacrifice." l 

The divine mountain, on which the Ardviura rises, 
is in the Avesta " the mighty navel of water (apam 
napal)" "in a course swift as the horse, Auramazda 
causes the water to stream forth from it." On this 
mountain is the deep lake Vourukaaha, i. e. having 
wide shores, in which the waters collect together. Out 
of this lake the water-clouds rise, which are to bring 
the fertilising rain to the earth. Though the tropic 
storms are wanting in Iran, the fertilising of the land 
by the water of the springs, rivers, and lakes, and by 
rain was of no less importance there than in the Panjab. 
Hence in the Avesta we again meet with the contest 
of the good spirits against Vritra, and in Iran also 
these spirits are opposed to the demons of blight. It 
is demons of this kind, which, according to the Avesta, 
keep back the rain-clouds above Vourukasha, and men 

1 Hang, " Essays," p. 179. The passages given in the text from the 
Aban Yasht, notwithstanding the swelling breasts, shows how definitely 
the form, of Anahita belongs to the Iranian conception, how peculiarly 
this goddess of fountains is represented in this form, and how intimately 
connected she is with the whole Iranian system of the boon of water, 
and the legends of the heroes. A brass tablet found at Grachwyl in 
the canton of Berne, which exhibits the Persian Artemis with swelling 
breasts, surrounded by four lions, with a bird of prey on her head and 
serpents instead of ears, and wings on the shoulders, has decided J. 
Stickel (" De monumento Graechwyliano ") to regard the Persian 
Artemis as identical with the Semitic goddess of birth. This tablet is 
due to the syncretism of Roman times. Certain similarities between 
the Syrian goddess of birth and fertility, Mylitta-Derceto, and the 
Persian goddess of water, might lead to such a syncretism even under 
the Achaemenids, and this coincidence might determine Artaxerxes 
Mnomon to erect images of Anahita in Ecbatana and Susa after the 
pattern of the Semites. Beros. fragm., 16 ed. Miiller, and below. 


say : " When will Tistrya (Sirius) rise, the bright, the 
majestic, the lord of the stars ? When will the streams 
of water flow which are stronger than horses ? " " And 
Tistrya, whom Angromainyu slays not, nor the magi- 
cians and Pairikas, nor the magicians among men, 
gleams forth from the navel of the waters ; he runs to 
Lake Vourukasha like an arrow, in the form of a horse, 
a beautiful brilliant horse, with yellow ears, and 
golden horse-cloth. Auramazda and Mithra prepare 
the way for him. Ashi vanguhi and Parendi follow in 
his wake with swift chariots. There goes to meet him 
the Daeva Apaosha, i. e. the witherer, in the form of a 
black, bald horse, with bald ears, bald back and tail, 
and ugly brand. For three days and three nights 
they struggle ; and the Daeva Apaosha scares away 
the brilliant Tistrya from Lake Vourukasha for the 
distance of a Hathra. And Tistrya speaks and says : 
" If men honour me with the sacrifice named by name, 
with duly performed sacrifice, and prayer, then at the 
appointed time I shall come to the pure men ; hostile 
chariots and uplifted banners will not come nigh to the 
Arian lands, and I shall have gained the strength of 
ten horses, ten bulls, ten mountains, and ten flowing 
waters." And Auramazda sacrificed to Tistrya and 
brought him that strength, and Tistrya fought with 
the Daeva Apaosha till midday, and conquered a"nd 
overpowered him, and scared him away from Vouru- 
kasha. And Tistrya announced blessing for the waters 
and the trees ; the streams of the waters will come 
to you without opposition, the cloud rises out of 
Lake Vourukasha, and the vapours gather above on 
Mount Hendava in the midst of Lake Vourukasha, and 
Tistrya drives forth the vapours, the pure ones, whence 
clouds are formed, and the strong wind drives clouds 
and rain to the villages and hamlets, to the seven 


Kareskvare (the seven parts of the earth). And Aura- 
mazda gave command to Zarathrustra that the Arian 
lands should offer sacrifice to Tistrya, should sprinkle 
sacrificial rice, and sacrifice a bright, light-hued, Haoma- 
coloured animal in order that he might withstand the 
Pairika Dushyairya (i. e. blight). " If I had not 
created Tistrya," Auramazda says, " this Pairika would 
have carried on war day and night, but Tistrya binds 
her with two and three fetters." "We praise Tistrya, 
the brilliant majestic star, which drives away the 
Pairika ; he blows her away from Lake Vourukasha ; 
then the clouds draw up, spreading themselves afar, 
which contain the fertilising water." l 

Another spirit which fights against the demons in 
the Avesta is called Qraosha. On the divine moun- 
tain stands "his triumphant dwelling with a thousand 
pillars, on the topmost height of the great mountain, 
illumined within with a light of its own, decked with 
stars without ; " his chariot is drawn by four spot- 
less horses, which are swifter than clouds, swifter than 
winds, swifter than storms, swifter than birds with 
strong wings. A strong, well-armed, victorious youth, 
the strongest and swiftest among young men, who 
fears not the Daevas, and before whom they fly in 
terror to the darkness, Qraosha is the companion of 
Mithra ; with him he overthrows the ranks of the 
hosts with whom Mithra is angry (p. 111). Thrice in 
each day he comes to smite the Daevas, with the axe 
of a woodman in his hand. Thus he fights against the 
evil Angromainyu, against Aeshma, and the Daevas 
Kunda, Banga, and Vibanga; thus he forces the con- 
quered Daevi Druj to answer him. In the dark he is 
wakeful against the evil ones; he protects the world from 
them when the sun has set ; in each night he comes 

1 " Tistar Yasht," 24 if., 40, 4958. 


thrice upon the earth with his weapons in his hand. 
About the third watch of the night he arouses the 
bird Parodarsh, t. e. the cock, that by his cry he may 
scare away the goblins of the night, and may banish the 
Daevi Bushyanyta, which holds men imprisoned in 
sleep. 1 Qraosha, moreover, protects the sacrifices which 
are offered to the good gods, and which the evil one 
would carry away or defile. One of the priests who 
took part in tbe sacred ceremonies held a club, the 
Qraosha-club, in his hand, in order to scare the demons 
and keep them back. Of the two instruments which 
in the book of the law are used for flagellation, and by 
which the evil spirits are driven from the bodies of men, 
one is called the Qraosha-whip (praos/ia charana). 

We remember the numerous hymns of the Veda 
which celebrate the benefits conferred upon men by 
Agni, the spirit of fire, who is born from the double 
wood, and descends to earth in the lightning from the 
water-bed of the storm-cloud ; the glow of this bright 
youth preserves men from beasts of prey, from mur- 
derers and evil spirits, helps the gods to victory, and 
contends in battle in the van ; at the same time a 
royal house-lord and priest, Agni is in the Veda the 
upholder of the religious worship, the mediator between 
heaven and earth (IV. 40). The Avesta is filled with 
similar conceptions, though less poetical in form. Here 
the power as victorious of fire against the demon takes 
the first place. We saw that Mithra's chariot carried 
the kindled fire. " The sacred, strong fire" is invoked 
as a " warrior," as a " protector," as a slayer of the evil 
spirits, as the giver of good. To whatever side, we 
are told in the book of the law, the wind carries the 
smoke of the fire, it comes back thence as a slayer of 
thousands. "Happy is the man," we are told in an 

1 "Ya^na," 66; "Vend." 18, 39. 


invocation, " to whom thou comest in strength, Fire, 
son of Auramazda, more friendly than the friendliest, 
worthy beyond others of supplication. Fire, we 
approach thee with perfect purity, with a good spirit ; 
mayest thou come down to us bringing help." 1 He 
who uses dry selected wood for the fire, him the fire 
blesses, saying : " May herds of cattle gather round 
thee, and abundance of men ; may all things succeed 
according to the wish of thy soul. Live out thy life 
happily to the full extent to which thou wilt live. 
The fire speaks with all those for whom it shines the 
whole night through, and cooks food ; from all it 
demands good nourishment. The fire looks on the 
hands of all who come ; what does the friend bring to 
the friend, he who approaches to him who sits alone ? 2 " 
The Gathas of the Avesta also speak of the pieces of 
wood for friction, out of which springs the fire that 
shows the way ; s and in another passage we hear of the 
fire Urvazista which dwells in wood. The Avesta dis- 
tinguishes between the fire Qpenista, i. e. the house- 
lord, the hearth-fire (it is the same name that is given 
to the hearth-fire in India), the most victorious fire 
Verethraghna, which slays all the demons, and by 
which, according to the custom of the Parsees, the fires 
of the hearth must be renewed year by year, and the fire 
of lightning, which is called Vazista. This last, which 
comes down direct from heaven, is the " most sacred 
of all fires, which slays the demon Qpenjaghra." 4 I n 
the Avesta the priests are called Athravas, a name 
which, no doubt, goes back to the worship of fire 
(athar) ', among the Indians Atharvan entices the fire 

1 " Vend." 8, 248250 ; " Yaqna," 26, 61, 23; " Yasht Farvardin," 
77. 2 " Vend." 18, 5763, 19, 134. 

8 Roth, " Ueber Ya9na, 31," Tubingen, 1876, s. 6, 20. 
4 "Vend." 19, 135; "Ya<jna," 17, 69. 


from the wood, and together with Manu and Dad- 
hyanch kindles the first sacrificial fire ; the fourth 
Veda is called after him (IV. 280). In the Avesta also 
the red glowing fires, which gleamed on the earth in 
the days of King Yima, are repeatedly mentioned 
(p. 32) ; it extols " the brilliance of the Arian lands," 
denotes the fire-priests as possessors of the true faith, 
and assures us that what is right may be known from 
the clear, blazing flames. 1 

The sacrifice offered by the Arians beyond the 
Indus to Indra, the Maruts, and spirits of light, to 
strengthen them against the demons, the draught pre- 
pared from the Soma, is known to us ; we have shown 
how this Soma which strengthens the gods became 
itself a god in the fancy of the Indians a mighty 
nourisher and sustainer of the gods. The same custom 
and deity are found in the Avesta, only the name has 
become Haoma, according to the phonetic laws of the 
Bactrian language. The legend has already shown us 
what importance was ascribed in Iran to the worship of 
the god Haoma, and the sacrifice of this liquor. Yima 
was born to Vivanghana as a reward because he had 
first poured out the Haoma and worshipped the god. 
To Athwya, the second worshipper of Haoma, Thrae- 
taoua was born ; and to Thrita, the third, Kere9apa, 
the hero (p. 27, 28). To Zarathrustra, who was born to 
Pourusha9pa for a similar service, when he is dressing 
the sacred fire at the break of dawn, and singing the 
sacred hymns, the god Haoma appears: "Who art 
thou," asks Zarathrustra, " who appearest to my sight 
as the most perfect in the corporeal world, with thy 
brilliant, immortal body ? " Haoma answered him : " I 
am the pure Haoma, who protect men from evil. Call 
on me, press out my juice in order to enjoy me ; praise 

1 "Ya9na,"31, 3,19. 


me as all other fire-priests praise me." Then said Zara- 
thrustra : " Supplication to Haoma ! Haoma, the good, 
is well-created ; duly-created is he, and gives health ; 
he bestows kindness, is victorious, and of golden colour. 
Thy wisdom, golden one, I praise ; thy strength, thy 
victory, thy healing power, thy greatness. I praise 
the mountains, the high ones, where thou, Haoma, 
growest ; I praise the earth, the wide and patient, thy 
mother, pure Haoma. Mayest thou grow on the 
paths of the birds. To the horsemen, who spur their 
horses, Haoma gives power and strength; to the 
maidens who have long remained unmarried, he gives 
true and vigorous husbands, gifted with good under- 
standing, and to wives beautiful children and a pure 
posterity. To those who repeat the Naykas (the 
chapters of the Avesta) he gives sanctity and great- 
ness. Praise to thee, Haoma ; thou kuowest the words 
which are spoken with truth. Praise to thee, Haoma, 
who by thine own power art a mighty king. To thee 
Auramazda first gave the girdle glittering with stars ; 
girt with this thou lingerest on the summits of the 
mountains in order to maintain in sincerity the com- 
mands of the sacred sayings. O Haoma, lord of the 
house, of the village, of the land, lord of wisdom, I call 
on thee for greatness and victory, for favour to my 
body, and rich food. thou who art of golden colour, 
I entreat thee for skill and power, passing through the 
whole body, for beauty and health, for prosperity and 
increase, for greatness spreading over the whole form. 
The first boon for which I entreat thee, Haoma, who 
removest death, is that I may attain to the excellent 
habitation of the saints, the bright dwelling where there 
is abundance of all good things ; the second boon is 
that this body may endure ; the third, that my life may 
be long ; the fourth, that I may go through the earth 


powerful and glad, troubling the tormentors, and slay- 
ing the Druj ; the fifth is that I may walk victorious on 
the earth and slay the evil. For this thing also, as a 
sixth boon, Haoma, who removest death, I entreat 
thee : may I be the first to see the thief, the murderer, 
and the wolf: may none of these previously see me. 
Keep far from us the hatred of those who hate us ; tear 
out the hearts of those who give poison. If in this house, 
this place, this village, this sacrifice, there is a man who 
does harm, take from him the power to go, obscure his 
reason, break asunder his heart with the commandment. 
Let him not be mighty in the feet, let him not be 
mighty in the hands. Haoma, I make a prayer to 
thee, that thou mayest go a sovereign lord through the 
worlds, triumphing over hatred and the evil. Thou 
shouldest triumph over the hatred of all who hate thee, 
over the hatred of the Daevas and men, the evil spirits 
and magicians, the perverse, blind, and dumb, the two- 
footed murderers and insidious creatures, the four- 
footed wolves, and the numerous hosts which creep 
and fly." 1 

Further, we find in the Avesta that the "priest" 
offers Haoma to Mithra, Qraosha, and Drva9pa on the 
divine mountain. 2 The plant of which this god is the 
genius, grows, according to the books of the Parsees, 
as white heavenly Haoma only on the tree Gaokerena, 
t . e. the heavenly tree which stands on the divine 
mountain or in the spring Ardvifura; the yellow 
Haoma which grows upon the earth is only a copy or 
descendant of the white Haoma. In Iran also the pre- 
paration and expression of the Haoma juice is accom- 
panied by a long and minute ritual ; and the offering of 

1 Yacna," 9, 10, according to Burnouf, " Journ. Asiat" 1844 1846. 
C Spiegel " Avesta," 2, 68 ft 
" Gosh Yasht," 17 ; " Mihr Yaaht," 88 ; " Yacna," 56, 8. 


the sacrifice, which is still performed among the Par- 
sees of India, requires long invocations and responses 
between the celebrant and the ministering priests. At 
the present day the Parsees send from time to time 
one of their priests to Kerman in order to bring from 
their ancient home twigs of Haoma for the sacrifice. 

The coincidence which we find above, in the forms 
of the legend, between the Avesta and the Veda 
Vivanghana, Yima. Athwya, Thrita, Ke^aypa, and 
Uca are found in both is not less marked in the 
conceptions of the gods and their functions, and in 
the character of the worship. There can be no doubt 
that the Arians of Iran believed themselves to be pro- 
tected and injured by the same spirits as the Arians 
in the Panjab. If on the Indus invocations were ad- 
dressed to Vritrahan, Vayu, the Maruts, and Mitra, in 
Iran men prayed to Verethraghna, Vayu, and Mithra. 
In both places Vritra and Ahi are the opponents of 
the god of light ; in both fire was worshipped ; in both 
the power of the sacrificial liquor was elevated into a 
mighty life-giving god. Among the Indians, as we 
saw, the priest who addresses the invocation to the 
god at the sacrifice is called Hotar; in the Avesta 
the Zaotar utters the prayers. Further coincidences 
in the number and nature of the gods, in the worship, 
in the laws and forms of purification, in the cere- 
monial, and even in the shape of the universe, will 
show themselves as we proceed. It is true that 
differences may also be found. Many of the numerous 
spirits of the Rigveda are wanting in the Avesta ; 
and again, some spirits in the Avesta, such as Anahita, 
Qraosha, Tistrya, are unknown to the Indians. Vari- 
ations such as these must occur where there has been 
a separate development from a common root. But 
the factors in the coincidence of the most important 


forms of the gods and heroes, and the distinctive 
modes of worship, in the A vesta and the Rigveda, 
the very oldest monument of the Arians in India, 
are so great that any doubt whether the Avesta 
remained free from alterations and influences of an 
alien or later nature in the revision under Shapur 
II., is entirely removed, and we know that we possess 
in it the remains of an original document of Iran, 
going back beyond the time of Cyrus. In the Avesta 
we have before us the faithful expression of the 
ancient Iranian faith. Though not in its original form 
this result is the more certain, because on the one 
hand some deities, as for instance Mithra, and some 
myths like that of Yima, exhibit older forms in the 
Avesta than in the Rigveda, while in others we have 
almost an identity of language between the two. In 
the Avesta as in the Veda the Soma is praised as 
" gold-coloured ; " in both fire is the " house-lord ; " 
the sun goes on his " path free from dust ;" the power 
of the gods is increased by the sacrifice (p. 120). In 
both one god offers sacrifice to another, in order to 
strengthen him ; and the invocations of the Avesta, 
like those of the Rigveda, ask for health and long 
life for the suppliant ; for possessions and wealth and 
favour, for the power to see the thief, the murderer, 
and the wolf before they are seen by him. 



IN the Gathas of the Avesta the spirit who keeps 
watch over the increase of the flocks speaks to the 
heavenly powers, saying: "All creatures are distressed; 
whom have ye for their assistance ? " Auramazda 
makes answer : " I have one only who has received 
my commands, the holy Zarathrustra ; he will proclaim 
my exhortations and those of Mazda and Asha, for 
I will make him practised in speech." 1 Then Aura- 
mazda sacrificed to Ardviura that he might unite 
with Zarathrustra the son of Pourusha9pa, to the end 
-that the latter might think, speak, and act according 
to the law. 2 Pourusha9pa, i. e. rich in horses, of the 
race of Haechatapa, 3 was the fourth who offered the 
sacrifice of Haoma in Airyana Vaeja after Vivanghana, 
Athwya, and Thrita. For this Zarathrustra was born 
to him. 4 At his birth and his growth the grass and 
the trees increased, and all the creatures of Auramazda 
greeted each other because the priest had been created 
who would sacrifice for them and spread abroad the 

," 29 ; Both; " Z. D. M. G." 25, 6 ff. Gem urva means 
soul of the bull ; the priests identified the soul of the first created bull 
with the protectress of the flocks, the, t. e. having mighty 
horses. Spiegel, " Avesta," 3, 74. 

2 " Aban Yasht," 1719. 3 " Afrin Zartusht," 4. 

4 " Yasna," 9, 42. 

VOL. V. K 


law of Auraraazda, over the seven Kareshvare of the 
earth. 1 Qraosha, accompanied by the sublime Asha, 
appeared to Zarathrustra, and the latter declared him- 
self ready to swear enmity against the liars, and to be 
a mighty source of help to the truth. And the god 
Haoma appeared to Zarathrustra and commanded him 
to press out his juice and to praise him, as other fire- 
priests praise him. And Zarathrustra praised Haoma 
and his mother the earth, and addressed six prayers 
to him (p. 125). Ashi vanguhi also came at Zara- 
thrustra's command on her chariot, and inquired : 
Who art thou who callest on me, whose speech is the 
most beautiful which I have heard from all those who 
invoke me ? Come nearer to me ; approach my chariot. 
Then she surrounded him with her right arm and her 
left and said : Beautiful art thou, Zarathrustra, well 
grown, with strong legs and long arras. To thy body 
has been given brilliance, and to thy soul long pros- 
perity." 1 And when Zarathrustra sacrificed to Vere- 
thraghna, he granted him strength of arm, health, and 
vigour of body, and power of vision, such as that of 
the horse, which sees by night, and the gold-coloured. 
vulture. 3 But Auramazda taught Zarathrustra "the 
best words," prayers, and invocations, and charms 
against the evil spirits. 4 " How," Zarathrustra in- 
quires of Auramazda, "how ought I to protect the 
creatures from the evil spirits, from the wicked An- 
gromainyu ? " Then Auramazda answers : " Praise 
Auramazda, the creator of the pure creation ; praise 
the victorious Mithra ; praise the Amesha Qpentas (the 
immortal saints), which rule over the seven parts of 
the earth ; praise the holy Qraosha, W } 1O holds the club 
against the head of the Daevas ; praise Verethraghna, 

1 " Farvardin Yasht," 93, 94. 2 " Ashi Yasht," 17 ff. 

s " Bahrain Yasht," 2833. * " Ya^na," 13, 18 ; 64, 38 ; 69, 65. 


created by Ahura, the bearer of the splendour ; praise 
the shining heavens, and the glowing Tistrya ; praise 
Vayu, the swift; praise Qpenta Armaiti (the holy 
earth), the beautiful daughter of Auramazda. Praise 
the tree, the good, the pure, created by Ahura, the 
well-grown and strong ; praise the glittering Hae- 
tumant (Etymandros) ; praise Yiina Kshaeta, the 
possessor of good herds. Praise the good laws, the 
law against the Daevas, the law of the worshippers of 
Auramazda ; praise the splendour of the Arian land ; 
praise the abode of the pure. Praise the fire Vazista 
(p. 123), which smites the Daeva Qpenjaghra. Bring 
hard wood and perfumes, and water of purification to 
the fire." 1 

Zarathrustra first proclaimed the words which 
Auramazda had taught him to Maidhyomao, 2 the son 
of Ara9ta, his father's brother, and spoke to the 
members of his race, the Haechata9pas : " Ye holy 
Haechata9pas, to you will I speak ; ye distinguish the 
right and the wrong." The announcement did not 
remain confined to the circle of the family and the 
race : "To you that come," we are told in another 
passage, " I will announce the praises of the all- wise 
lord, and the praises of Vohumano. Look on the 
beams of fire with pious mind. The fair sayings of 
the fire-priests are the way of Vohumano. Thou 
gavest ancient sayings, O Ahura ; by these will I 
annihilate among you the sacrifices of the lying gods. 
The worshipper of fire should accurately understand 
the correct words which have come from Vohumano 
(the good disposition and its spirit) in order that 
truth may be his portion." In other poems Zara- 
thrustra laments : " The liar possesses the fields of 
the true man, who protects the earth ; none of the 

1 " Vend." 19, 36137. 2 " Farvardin Yasht," 95. 

R 2 


servants worship me ; none of the lords of the land, 
who are unbelievers. The dominion is in the hands of 
the priests and prophets of the lying gods; whither 
shall I go for refuge ? to what land shall I turn ? I 
cry for help for Frashaostra and myself. May the fire 
grant this help to both of us." 1 Frashaostra of the 
race of Hvova, is mentioned in the A vesta as the 
closest adherent of Zarathrustra, and often in con- 
nection with Jama9pa. The help for which Zara- 
thrustra cried in this invocation was granted to him 
by King Vista9pa. Zarathrustra offered the Haoma 
draught in Airyana Vaeja to Ardvi9ura, and prayed 
to her : " Grant to me that I may combine with the 
son of Aurvatagpa, the strong Kava Vista9pa, to the 
end that he may think, speak, and act according to 
the law ;" and the goddess granted him this favour. 2 
And Zarathrustra sacrificed to the Drva9pa (the god- 
dess of flocks) in Airyana Vaeja, to the end that he 
might unite with the good and noble Hutao9a (the 
wife of Vista9pa), that she might impress the good 
law on her memory. 3 Finally, we read : " Who is 
thy true friend on the great earth ; who will proclaim 
it ? Kava Vista9pa, the warlike, will do this." 4 

Of King Vista9pa and Frashaostra the Avesta then 
tells us, " that they prepared the right path for the 
faith which Ahura gave to the fire-priests." In the 
prayers Kava Vista9pa is praised because as an arm, 
an assister, and helper, he has subjected himself to 
the law of Ahura, the law of Zarathrustra ; because he 
has opened a wide path for purity, and has established 
the law in the world. The mighty brilliance of the 

1 ","28, 9, 44, 45; 46, 14; 49, 8; 50, 16, 18, according 
to Haug's translation, which however has been called in question. 
* "Aban Yasht," 104106. 

9 " Gosh Yasht ;" cf. " Earn Yasht," 36 ; " Farvardin Yasht," 142. 
"," 45, 14 ff. 


ruler supported Zarathrustra, " in establishing the law 
and making it highly esteemed." 1 When Jamagpa saw 
the army of the Dae va- worshippers approach, he sacri- 
ficed to Ardvi9ura a hundred horses, a thousand 
oxen, and ten thousand head of small cattle, and 
Ardviura granted to him to fight victoriously against 
all the non-Arians. And Zairivairi, the brother of 
Vista9pa, besought Ardvi9ura that he might smite the 
skilful Peshana, who worshipped the Daevas, and 
Arejatacpa. Kava Vista9pa himself offered sacrifice 
in order to obtain the victory over Asta-aurva, over the 
Daeva worshippers Qpinjauruska, and Darsinika, and 
the murderous Arejatapa. 2 And Vista9pa smote 
Peshana and Arejata9pa, and Zarathrustra blessed 
him : " I praise thee, ruler of the lands. May life 
be given to thy wives and thy children, which shall 
be born from thy body. Be thou possessed of swift 
horses, like the sun, shining like the moon, glowing 
as fire, sharp as Mithra, a conqueror of enemies like 
Verethraghna, well grown and victorious as Qraosha. 
Mayest thou be a ruler like Yima ; mayest thou be 
victorious and rich in cattle like Thraetaona, bold and 
strong as Kere9a9pa, wise as Urvakshaya, brilliant as 
Kava U9a, without sickness and death, like Kava 
Hu9rava, stainless as Qyavarshana, rich in horses as 
Pourusha9pa, a friend of the heavenly ones, and 
conqueror of men." 3 

The Avesta gives Zarathrustra three sons : Urvatat- 
nara, Hvare9ithra, Daevotbi (Punisher of the Daevas) ; 
and three daughters : Freni, Thriti, and Pourushi9ta. 4 
His work is summed up in the fact that he compelled 
the Daevas, who previously had been in human form 

1 " Farvardin Yasht," 99 ; " Zamyod Yasht," 84 ff. 

2 " Aslii Yasht," 49 ; " Aban Yasht," 112. 

3 " Afrin Zartusht," 14. 

"Ya<jna," 52, 3; " Farvardiu Yasht," 98. 


upon the earth, to hide themselves in the earth. 1 His 
doctrine prevents the Daevas from injuring the crea- 
tion, as before, and gives to all the creatures of the 
good god the means of protecting themselves more 
effectually against the evil. Hence Zarathrustra is 
the increaser of life ; in this sense he is described, 
invoked, and worshipped as the lord and master of 
all created life. But in time Qaoshyant will be born, 
who will make the evil creatures wholly powerless, 
and bring on for man the time of undisturbed happi- 
ness, in which there will no more be any battle ; 
the time of uninterrupted life, t. e. of immortality. 
In this period all who once had life will have life 
again ; t. e. the life destroyed by Angromaiuyu and 
the evil spirits will be restored, and the dead will rise 
to a new life. 

Zarathrustra's birth and growth struck terror into 
the evil spirit Angromainyu. " The Yazatas " (the 
gods), he exclaimed, " have not forced me from the 
earth, crossed with paths, round, and wide- reaching ; 
but Zarathrustra will drive me from it." 2 And the 
Daevas took counsel on the summit of Arezura, whither 
they are wont to come together from their caves with 
the Druj : " Alas ! in the dwelling of Pourusha9pa 
the pure Zarathrustra has been born. He is the 
weapon with which the Daevas are smitten ; he takes 
away the power from the Daevi Druj, and the Daevi 
Nau (vexu$, i. e. the spirit of the dead), and the false 
lies ; how shall we compass his death ? " And from 
the region of the north Angromainyu dashed forward, 
who is full of death, the Daeva of Daevas, and said : 
" Druj, go up and slay the pure Zarathrustra." 
And " Zarathrustra said in the spirit: The wicked, evil- 
minded Daevas are considering my death. And he 
1 Ya^na," 9, 46. * " Ashi Yasht," 19. 


arose and went forth, bearing in his hand stones of 
the size of a Kata, which he had received from the 
creator Auramazda, and he praised the good waters of 
the good creation, and the law of the worshippers of 
Auramazda, and uttered the prayer : Yatha aim vairyo. 
The Druj ran round about him, and the Daeva Buiti, 
the deceiver of mortals ; and the Druj ran in alarm 
from him and said to Angromainyu, the tormentor : 
In him, in the holy Zarathrustra, I see no death. 
And Zarathrustra said to Angromainyu : Evil-minded 
Angromainyu, I will smite the creation which is created 
by the Daevas ; I will smite the spirit of the dead 
which the Daevas have created, until Qaoshyant the 
victorious shall be born from the water of Kan9ava, 
in the region of the east. Angromainyu answered 
him : Wherewith wilt thou smite my creatures ? With 
what weapons wilt thou destroy them ? Then spake 
Zarathrustra : The pestle, the bowl, the Haoma, these 
are my best weapons, and the words which Auramazda 
has spoken. By this sacred word will I annihilate thy 
creatures, O evil Angromainyu. Slay not my crea- 
tures, pure Zarathrustra, answered Angromainyu. 
Thou art the son of Pourusha9pa, and hast life from a 
mother. Curse the good law of the worshippers of 
Auramazda, and attain the prosperity which Vad- 
haghna has attained, the ruler of the lands. But 
Zarathrustra spake : I will not curse the good law of 
the worshippers of Auramazda ; no, not though my 
bones and soul and power of life were torn asunder. 
Then the evil Daevas ran and took counsel on the 
summit of Arezura, and Angromainyu spoke : What 
will the Daevas bring thither ? But they said : ' The 
evil eye ; ' and hastened to the bottom of hell, the 
dark, the evil, the wicked." 1 

1 "Vend." 3, 23; 19, 132, 140147. 


With Zarathrustra, according to the Avesta, a new 
era begins. He is the proclaimer of a new law. But 
along with this we are told that even in Yima's time 
the earth glowed with red fires ; the power of the old 
sayings of the fire-priests is extolled ; the professors of 
the first, and those of the new law receive commenda- 
tion. Zarathrustra is born to his father as a reward 
for offering an ancient sacrifice, the sacrifice of Haoma. 
He himself dresses the fire at daybreak before he 
comes forth to announce his new doctrine ; and even 
while announcing it he sacrifices to the old gods 
Verethraghna and Ardviura ; the gods whom the 
heroes of the old days invoke appear to him also, the 
prophet of the new teaching ; they demand that he 
shall offer sacrifice, and insist on their worship ; they 
grant him favour and gifts. It is precisely the ancient 
sacrifice of Haoma, the common possession of the Arians 
in Iran and India, which is declared by Zarathrustra 
to be the best means of repelling the evil ones, and 
not Zarathrustra only, but also Auramazda sacrifices 
to an ancient divinity that the son of Pourusha9pa 
may be obedient to his commands, and then directs 
the latter to invoke the ancient gods, Mithra, Vere- 
thragna, Qraosha, Vayu, and Tistrya, and to worship 
fire. Hence it was no new religion which Zarathrustra 
taught; it was nothing more than a reform of the 
ancient faith, and traditional modes of worship. 

We were able definitely to ascertain from the frag- 
ments of the Avesta that it arose in the east of Iran ; 
the districts of the north-east are especially prominent 
in it. It denotes Bactra as the abode of dominion 
(p. 31). A doctrine which, as we shall see, lays the 
greatest stress on the cultivation of the land, could not 
have grown up in the deserts of the Gedrosians, or 
the steppes of the Sagartians. If, according to the 


Avesta, " the evil custom of the burial of the dead 
prevails" in Arachosia (Harahvaiti) j 1 if Haetumat 
(Drangiana) is reproved for the sins which are practised 
there ; 2 if we are told of Haraeva (the land of the 
Arians) that it is indeed rich in houses but full of 
poverty and idleness, 3 and of Ragha that it is indeed 
Zoroastian but full of utter unbelief 4 if the sin of 
burning corpses prevails in Chakhra (Chirhem ?), 5 it is 
clear that these lands are distinct from the region in 
which the pure doctrine of Zarathrustra, proclaimed in 
the Avesta, arose, and became so firmly established as 
to be universally current. Hence of all the lands in 
Iran, mentioned in the Avesta, only Airyana Vaeja, 
Margiana, Sogdiana, and Bactria remain. In the 
Avesta Zarathrustra is famous in Airyana Vaeja ; in 
that land he sacrifices ; and, as the Avesta allots but 
two months of summer and ten months of cold winter 
to this region, we must look for it on the high mountain 
range of the North-east (p. 73). Zarathrustra stands 
in a close relation to Queen Hutaoa and King Vis- 
tapa, who fights against the worshippers of the 
Daevas and Arejata9pa, and prepares a way for the 
new doctrine. Among the heroes of the ancient time 
and the spirits of the pious who are invoked in the 
prayers of the Avesta, the immortal part of King 
Vistapa is repeatedly invoked besides Zarathrustra 
and Frashaostra. We have already shown in what a 
contrast the Bactrians and Sogdiani stood to the 
nations of the steppes of the Oxus, and what a posi- 
tion is allotted to King Vistapa as repelling the 
Iranians. In thus celebrating him as the protector 
of Zarathrustra, the Avesta plainly puts Zarathrustra 
himself in Bactria. 

* "Vend." 1, 4648. 2 "Vend." 1, 5052. 

3 "Vend." 1, 3032. * " Yayna," 19, 51, 52; "Vend." 1, 6062. 

5 "Vend." 1, 6466. 


If we may assume the fact that the reform of the 
religion must have proceeded from Bactria and Sog- 
diana in the north-east of Iran, the next question to 
be decided is, whether it is possible to determine the 
meaning and import of this reform. The forms and 
views, which are found to agree in the Avesta and 
Rigveda, we have already established, with complete 
certainty, to be the ancient possession of the Arians of 
Iran. The elements of the religious conception, and 
several very definite forms and traits in the belief and 
worship, were the same in the Panjab and Iran. The 
leading principle was the contrast of the bright bene- 
ficent powers who give life and increase and the evil 
spirits of darkness, drought, and death. This posses- 
sion was therefore in existence before the reform. This 
principle must have become more prominent among 
the Arians of Iran owing to the nature of their 
country. The fertile land and the desert were in far 
greater proximity there than in the Panjab. The 
centre of Iran was filled with a vast desert ; wide and 
barren table-lands spread out on north and south ; the 
most favoured regions were almost like oases. Closely 
adjacent to the most fruitful valleys and slopes lay 
endless steppes ; blooming plains, shaded by thick 
groups of trees, were surrounded by hot deserts of 
sand. If the alpine districts of the north possessed 
the most splendid forests and luxuriant pastures, yet 
the snow fell early, and the winter was severe ; if 
vegetation ran riot on the fringe of the Caspian, fever 
and reptiles infested the marshy plains. Close beside 
abundant productiveness lay drought and desert, bare 
flats of rock, deserts of sand, and fields of snow. The 
inhabitants of Iran had not only to suffer from the 
heat of summer but also from the cold of winter, from 
the scorching winds of the desert as well as from the 


snow-storms which came from the table-lands of the 
north. On the one hand, pastures and fields were 
covered for many weeks with snow ; on the other, sand- 
storms from the desert ruined the tillage ; in one 
district camels succumbed to the cold of the lofty 
terraces, or slipped from the icy slopes down the 
precipices ; in another, the desert wind dried up foun- 
tains and springs. Here the winter, " which flies past 
to slay the herds, and is full of snow," as the Avesta 
says, was " of endless duration ; " it was " on the water, 
the trees, and the field," and " its cold penetrated to 
the heart of the earth ; " there the herds were tor- 
mented by the fly in the heat, bears and wolves fell 
upon the folds, and it was necessary to find protection 
against serpents and ravenous beasts of prey. 1 In this 
land life was a conflict against the heat of summer and 
the south, against the chill of winter and the moun- 
tain heights, a struggle for the maintenance and pro- 
tection of the herds ; and as soon as these tribes had 
become settled in the more favoured regions and 
passed over to agriculture, there began on the edge of 
those oases the struggle against the desert and the 
steppe. Here water must be conveyed to the dry 
earth, there the tillage must be protected against the 
sand-storms of the desert. To these difficulties and con- 
trasts in the nature of the land was added a contrast in 
the mode of life of the population. The majority of 
the tribes of the table- land of the interior, and a part 
of the inhabitants of the mountainous rim, could not, 
owing to the nature of the land, pass beyond a nomadic 
pastoral life, and even to this day the population of Iran 
is to a considerable extent nomadic ; 2 while other tribes 

1 "Vend." 1,912, 24; 7, 69. 

2 " Herodotus states expressly that some tribes of the Persians were 
nomads (1, 125); beside the Sagartians nomadic tribes are also 
mentioned among the Carmanians, Areians, etc. 


toiled laboriously in the sweat of their brows, these 
wandered with their herds in idleness, ever ready for 
battle ; and thus there could be no lack of ambuscades 
and plunder, of attacks and raids on the cultivated 

All these contrasts are most marked on the slopes 
of the north-eastern edge, in Margiana, Bactria, and 
Sogdiana, which lay open to the steppes of the Caspian 
Sea. Here were fruitful, blooming valleys with luxuri- 
ant vegetation on the banks of the mountain streams, 
yet, wherever the mountains receded, the endless desert 
at once began. If the stars shone clear through the 
night on mountains and table-lands, in the pure and 
vapourless atmosphere of Iran, sand-storms and mist 
lay on the northern desert The winds blowing from 
the north brought icy cold in the winter ; in the 
summer they drove the sand of the deserts over the 
fruitful fields, to which water has to be laboriously 
conveyed in the time of the greatest heat, while 
eternal winter reigned in the heights of Belurdagh 
and Hindu Kush. There was also the continual fear 
of the nomads who dwelt on the steppes to the north, 
who made attacks on the fruitful slopes and valleys. 
We have already shown that it was precisely on the 
slopes of the Hindu Kush that the necessity of pro- 
tection against the nations of the steppes led to a 
combination of the forces of the tribes who were settled 
there, and gave the impulse to the formation of a 
larger polity. 

In such a territory, when the tribes had once become 
settled in the more favoured regions, amid such strug- 
gles against nature and the plundering neighbours, 
it is clear that the conception of the contrast between 
good and evil spirits must become more widely de- 
veloped and sharply pointed that it should indeed 


form the hinge of all religious ideas. The good spirits 
had given fruit and increase to many excellent lands ; 
but the evil spirits destroyed these blessings with their 
storms of sand and snow, their cold and heat, their 
beasts of prey and serpents. Wherever the herds 
throve and the fields were fruitful, there the good 
spirits were gracious ; where the pastures withered, 
and the fields were covered with sand, the wicked 
spirits had maliciously rendered of no avail the labours 
of men. In the valleys of Bactria and Sogdiana there 
was labour, industry, increase and fruit ; beyond, in 
the steppe, all was barren ; the storms went whirling 
round, and wild hordes of robbers roamed to and fro. 
Thus in these regions the conception of the struggle of 
the good spirits, and the evil, which injure, torment, 
punish and murder men, was most lively, the religious 
feeling of these conceptions most completely penetrated 
and governed the minds of men. 

All creatures were oppressed by the evil spirits, so 
the Avesta told us (p. 129) ; and therefore Auramazda 
determines to teach Zarathrustra " the wise sayings." 
No new belief or new forms of worship are to be 
introduced ; the means of protection against the evil 
ones were to be multiplied and strengthened. We 
know what importance the Arians in India ascribed to 
the correct prayer and invocation, what power over 
the spirits and indeed over the deities themselves they 
ascribed to the correct words, what a defensive power 
they attributed to the sayings of the Atharvan. The 
same ideas were current among the Arians of Iran. 
The heaven of the good god and holy spirits is, in the 
Avesta, the "dwelling of invocations" (Garonmana). 
Hence the first point in the reform was that new 
formulae and prayers should be added to the old 
prayers and incantations. Tiie fire that slays demons 


is to burn day and night on the hearth, and must 
always be tended with hard, dry, well-hewn wood ; 
the spirits of light, the great Mithra, the sun, the stars, 
are to be earnestly invoked along with the victorious 
Verethraghna, and Qraosha the slayer of demons, the 
life-giving god, to whom Haoma is to be offered ; and 
the libation of Haoma is to be frequently offered to the 
spirits of light. If men prayed constantly to the good 
spirits, and cursed the evil, if they made use of the holy 
sayings when they observed that the evil beings came, 
then wicked creatures would certainly remain far from 
house, and farm, and field. According to the Avesta, 
Zarathrustra first uttered the Ahuna vairya, and An- 
gromainyu says that though the deities have not been 
able to drive him from the earth, Zarathrustra will 
smite him with the Ahuna vairya. 1 In the minds of 
the priests of the Avesta, this prayer is itself a mighty 
being to which worship is to be offered, just as in the 
Vedas the holy prayers and some parts of the ritual 
nay even the verse-measure of the hymns are treated 
as divine powers. 

It was an old Arian conception, which we have 
observed widely spread on the Ganges, that filth and 
pollution and contact with what is impure and dead 
gave the evil spirit power over those who had con- 
tracted such defilement. This uncleanness must be 
removed, and its operation checked. The reform, 
which bears the name of Zarathrustra, must have 
extended and increased in Iran the rules for puri- 
fication and the removal of uncleanness. These regu- 
lations, carried out in long and wearisome detail on 
the basis of this new movement, are before us in the 
Vendidad. The Avesta says : Zarathrustra was the 
first who praised the Asha Vahista (i. e. the best truth- 

1 " Ya<jna," 9, 44 ; " Ashi Yasht," 20. 


fulness which is at the same time the highest purity) 
and represents Angromainyu as exclaiming ; " that 
Zarathrustra made him as hot by the Ashi Vahista as 
metal is made in the melting." l 

Whatever gave increase and life, water and trees 
and good soil, and the animals which were useful to 
men, were the work of the good spirits, the good 
creation ; the steppes, the desert, the heat, the fierce 
cold, the beasts of prey, these were the work of the 
evil ones, the bad creation. Did not a man increase 
life and growth if he industriously cultivated his field, 
watered it well, and extended it towards the desert, if 
he destroyed the animals and insects which did harm 
to the fields and trees, if he gave room to fruitfulness 
against unfertility ? Did he not extend and sustain 
the good creation, and lessen the evil, if he planted and 
watered, and diminished the harmful animals, the 
serpents, the worms, and beasts of prey ? By such 
work a man took the side of the good spirits against 
the evil, and fought with them. It was in the will 
and power of man by the act of his hands, by labour 
and effort, to strengthen the good creation. The 
importance which the Avesta ascribes to the cultivation 
of the land, we may regard as a prominent trait of the 
reform, as an essential part of its ethical importance. 
Beside warriors and priests the Avesta knows only 
the agricultural class. 

In the Veda the gods of the light and the highest 
heaven, Mithra and Varuna, are the guardians of truth 
and purity, the avengers and punishers of evil deeds. 
The invocation of Mithra in the Avesta, given above, 
showed us that the Arians of Iran recognised in this 
deity the spirit of purity, the inevitable avenger of 
injustice. With his all-penetrating eye he watches, 
1 "AshiYasht/^O. 


not only over purity of body, but also over purity 
of soul. We may regard it as certain that the re- 
form carried a long step forward the ethical impulse 
which lay in this conception of Mithra a conception 
current on both sides of the Indus. This view is 
supported by the great importance which the Avesta 
ascribes to truthfulness, in the decisive value given 
to this virtue for the purity of the soul, and the 
identification of purity with truthfulness. As filth 
defiles the body, so, according to the Avesta, does a lie 
defile the soul. Lying and deception are the worst 
sins of which a man can be guilty. The ethical 
advance is obvious when the evil spirits are not merely 
regarded as doing harm to men, but it is emphatically 
stated that they deceive men, and a lie is the essence 
of the evil spirits. In the Avesta a part of them have 
simply the name of the spirits of deception, of the 
Druj. The suppliants of the true gods are called 
Ashavan, i. e. the true, the pure ; the worshippers of 
the evil spirits are liars. ' 

The ideas of the Veda about the hosts of the spirits 
of ancestors, and the entrance of the good and pious 
into the heaven of light, are also current among the 
Arians of Iran. These the reform could not leave 
untouched. From the ethical characteristic which 
marks them, from the severe inculcation of a pure, true, 
active life, it proceeded to the idea of a sort of judg- 
ment on the souls after death. The detailed form in 
which this idea is presented to us in the Avesta will 
be given below. 

In all religions, when they have reached a certain 
stage of development, the impulse arises to find the 
unity of the divine being among the multifarious crowd 
of deities. On the Ganges the Brahmans or priests 
attained to this unity by elevating the power of the 


holy acts which controlled the deities, and was mightier 
than they, into the lord of the gods, by uniting with 
this conception the great breath or world-soul, the 
source of life springing up in nature. In Iran the 
reform did not look on nature as one, like the Brah- 
mans on the Ganges, and owing to the character of 
the land and the strong contrasts there met with it 
could not easily perceive in it any single whole ; on 
the contrary, it comprehended in unity, on the one 
hand, the good beneficent side of nature, which gives 
increase, light, and life to men ; and, on the other, 
ranged the harmful powers together in opposition to 
the good. Hence it came about that the spirits which 
worked on either side were, so to speak, combined, 
and the two totals came forward in opposition. To 
these totals the reform sought to give unity by placing 
a chieftain at the head of each, the good and the bad. 
The chief of the good was Ahura, i. e. the lord, who 
is also denoted by the name Mazda, i. e. the wise, but 
he is generally invoked by the united title Ahura 
Mazda (Auramazda in the dialect of Western Iran), 
the wise lord ; occasionally, in the Avesta, he is called 
Qpentomainyu, i. e. the spirit of holy mind, the holy 
spirit. In the Rigveda the name Ahura Mazda, in the 
form Asura Medha, is used for more than one god of 
light. The chief of the evil spirits was Angromainyu, 
i. e. he that thinks evil, the destroying spirit. 

The good and the evil spirits are regarded as active, 
the one on the beneficent, the other on the injurious 
side of nature. It was a step in advance when the 
reform arrived at the conception, that as the good 
and evil spirits ruled the life of nature and man, 
so in the beginning of the world, at the time of 
its origin, the good and evil spirits must have been 
active ; the good was from the beginning the work 

VOL. V. 


of the good ; the evil the work of the evil. As 
the heavenly and infernal spirits were regarded as 
in perpetual activity, the reform could not here, as in 
India, look on nature and men as emanations from a 
being in repose from the world-soul the nature of 
which became ever less pure and bright, less really 
itself, as the emanations advanced. Instead of an 
emanation, the active force and contrast of the spirits 
gave rise to the idea that the world was brought into 
being by the will and power of the two supreme spirits 
to a creation of the world. The good side of the 
world must have been the work of the chief of the good 
spirits, the evil side the work of the evil. Aura- 
mazda created the good, but immediately he created 
it, Angromainyu created the evil in order to destroy 
the good. And as at the creation, so also in the 
created world, the mutual opposition of the good and 
evil god, the struggle of their hosts, goes on. There 
is no direct contest between Auramazda and Angro- 
mainyu ; they operate against each other for increase 
and destruction, life and death, and for the souls of 
men ; the direct conflict against evil remains, even 
after the reform, with the old spirits, with Mithra, 
Verethragna, Qraosha, and Tistrya. 

From this we may without hesitation draw, the 
inference that Auramazda and Angromainyu did not 
belong to the original belief of the Arians of Iran. 
From the absence of any myth about Auramazda, and 
the character of the names, " the wise lord," " the 
destroying spirit," it further follows that the gods 
thus named could not be the creation of any primitive 
religious feeling. These names belong to a period of 
reflection, which strives to make a presentment of the 
general operation of the good and evil powers, of 
their intellectual and ethical characteristics, and at 


the same time seeks to express their nature, as well 
as their relation to the world. Finally, the wavering 
position which Auramazda takes up in the Avesta 
towards the old deities, shows that he is of later 
origin. Though now the supreme deity, he sacrifices 
to Tistrya, in order to give him strength for the vic- 
tory over Apaosha (p. 120) ; to Ardvi9ura, that Zara- 
thrustra may be obedient to him (p. 129) ; and to other 
gods of the old period. Beside him Mithra is praised 
in the old style as the highest power ; he instructs 
Zarathrustra to invoke the old gods, who still continue 
in their traditionary activity. But we have express 
evidence that Auramazda belongs to the reform. 
" The first man," so the Avesta says, " who sacrificed 
to Auramazda was the sacred Zarathrustra." 1 In the 
transformation, however loose, of the divine nature 
into "the wise lord," with his change from a natural 
force to an ethical and intellectual power, and eleva- 
tion to be the creator "of the heaven and the earth" 
(p. 87), lay the most decisive step taken by the 
reform ; by these conceptions it had raised the ancient 
possession of the Arians of Iran to a new stage. 

It is a remarkable fact that the evil spirits in the 
Avesta bear the name of Daevas. The Arians of India 
called their good gods, the gods of light, Devas ; from 
the same root has sprung the general name of the gods 
among the Greeks, Italians, and the Celts. Hence 
among the Arians of Iran also it must once have been 
in use for the spirits of light. Why the names Bagha 
and Yazata became used in the Avesta for the good 
gods, while the evil spirits received the name of Daevas 
we cannot discover ; nor can we decide whether this 
change of name came in with the reform. We can 
only discover that an analogous change has taken 

1 " Ashi Yasht," 18. 

L 2 


place in India also. In the Rigveda the good gods 
are comprised under the name Asura (old Bactrian 
Ahura), i. e. the lord ; at a later time the evil spirits 
among the Indians were always called Asuras, while 
in Iran the name is allotted to the highest among 
the good spirits. 



WHEN the tribes of the Aryas advanced from the 
Panjab towards the East, and established themselves on 
the Ganges, the gods to whom they had offered prayers 
on the Indus faded away amid the abundant fer- 
tility of the new land ; and the lively perception of the 
struggle of the gods of light against the spirits of 
darkuess made room for the conception of the world- 
soul, from which nature and all living creatures were 
thought to have emanated. Similar religious princi- 
ples led the Arians in Iran to a religious reform of an 
opposite kind. The idea of an emanation of the world, 
proceeding without any opposition, could not maintain 
itself in a life occupied in labour for the means of 
sustenance, in toiling and struggling against nature. 
Luxuriant growth and dreary desolation, scorching heat 
and severe winter, such as were found alternating in 
Iran, could not flow from one and the same source. 
There man must be active and brave, and therefore 
the divine being could not be regarded as existing in 
repose. The nature of the table-land, divided between 
fertile tillage and desert, between heat and cold, not 
merely caused the old idea of the conflict between good 
and evil spirits to continue, but even increased and 
extended it. All nature was made subject to this 


opposing action of the gods, and the old conception of 
the conflict was developed into a complete system. 
With the extension of the operation of the beneficent 
and harmful power over the whole of nature, man was 
drawn into the conflict as active force. He must not 
only invoke the assistance of the good spirits ; he 
must himself take part in the struggle of the good 
against the evil. Tn this way he provided for his soul 
and salvation better than by prayer and sacrifice ; he 
strengthened so far as in him lay the life and increase 
of the world, and lessened the sphere in which the 
power of the" evil spirits could operate. If the Indians 
by the elevation of Brahman arrived only at the great 
contrast between nature and spirit, between soul and 
body; if all nature was regarded as something evil and 
to be annihilated, so that the mortification and tortur- 
ing of the body and annihilation of self became the 
highest ethical aims the Bactrians or Arians in Iran 
were directed by their reform to more energetic work 
and activity against the harmful side of nature, and 
the evil part of the soul. With the free choice of this 
or that side, with the duty of working on nature, and 
educating self, the conditions of a more happy and 
powerful development were given them. 

It was the duty of any earnest and eminent ad- 
herents of the reform, and afterwards of the priestly 
races who joined it, or grew up in it, to guide the 
impulse it had given, and bring the new ideas and the 
rules to be deduced from them into harmony with the 
old conceptions. If the contrast between the beneficent 
and harmful powers once took the shape of opposing 
spirits, the next object was to represent more exactly 
the character and nature of these spirits, and define 
more closely the good and evil Deity. As the reform 
tended to elevate the natural side in these shapes into 


ethical qualities, it was inevitable that advance in this 
direction should lead at an early time to abstract views 
that both spirits should be identified with the pure 
contrast of light and darkness, of truth and lying, of 
moral good and moral evil. 

If the good spirit was supreme purity and truth, he 
must originally have created the world in accordance 
with his nature. Whence then came the injurious, the 
evil ? Had the evil spirit also a creative power ? Or 
was the evil first introduced after the creation of the 
world ? If this was the case, and evil was not always 
in the world, then it must again disappear from it ; if 
the pure god was the more powerful, he must again 
overcome the resistance of the evil. Moreover, with 
the subordination of the light and dark powers to 
Auramazda and Angromainyu, and their combination 
into these two forms, an impulse was given which 
gradually forced the ancient deities into the back- 
ground. The first point was, to put the latter in the 
right relation to the new god, who had created heaven 
and earth, and even these ancient gods. In the same 
way the old Arian legend of the golden age of Yima 
must be harmonised with the new doctrine of the 
creation, and a relation must be established between 
the sacrificers of the old days, who were without the 
good law of Zarathrustra, and the latter. The sayings 
which held in check the evil spirits, and which the 
reform took from the body of ancient invocations or 
added to them in their spirit, must be accurately pre- 
served if they were not to lose their force, especially the 
prayers and incantations which Zarathrustra himself 
had spoken or was thought to have spoken. Lastly, 
the mode of worship must be regulated in accordance 
with the tendencies of the reform. Which and what 
kind of sacrifices, which invocations and songs of praise 


were the most efficacious, was a matter which required 
settling. The old customs of purification so indispens- 
able for keeping at a distance the evil spirits, which 
the reform, as we ventured to assume, largely increased 
by new prescripts, must be united with the increased 
importance attached to truth and purity and combined 
into a comprehensive rule for the life pleasing to 
Auramazda. What means were there for wiping out 
offences against this rule, and sins when committed, 
for turning aside the anger of Mithra, for expiating 
falsehood, lying, and deception ? We have already 
indicated (p. 101) how numerous and complicated 
were the duties of the priesthood arising out of 
pollution and its removal. The answers which the 
priesthood of Iran gave to all the questions which 
successively arose have been collected in the Avesta. 

The Gathas of the Avesta, in which the metre has 
been retained, and along with it the older forms of the 
language poems which, according to another part of 
the Avesta (the Qrosh Yasht), Zarathrustra composed 
and Qraosha first sang 1 are the most speculative 
part of the book. They tell of the existence of the 
good and evil spirits, place both in the beginning of 
things, identify Auramazda with the truth and Angro- 
mainyu with the lie, bring forward Auramazda as the 
creator of the world and of living creatures, as the 
source of what is good in man and nature, and de- 
scribe the duties of the true worshippers and the re- 
wards which they may expect, together with the pun- 
ishments which will come upon the worshippers of the 
Daevas. The ancient gods, Mithra, Haoma, Tistrya, 
Anahita and Drva9pa are not mentioned in the 
Gathas ; though emphasis is laid on the blessing of 
the " imperishable red fire of Auramazda." In their 

"Ya< 4 -na,"5(i, 3, 13. 


place we have Asha (Truthfulness), and Vohumano 
(Good disposition), Armaiti (Piety), and Kshathra 
(Dominion) ; these are at times merely ideas, at times 
they are personified beside Auramazda. 

In these poems Zarathrustra addresses a number of 
questions to Auramazda : " This question I will ask of 
thee ; answer it truly, Ahura. Who is the first 
father and begetter of truth ? Who created their 
paths for the sun and stars ? Who causes the moon 
to wax and wane ? Who sustains the earth and holds 
the clouds above it ? Who created the water and 
the trees of the field ? Who is in the wind and the 
storms that they move so swiftly ? Who created the 
beneficent lights and the darkness ? For whom didst 
thou create the imperishable cow Kanyo9kereti (the 
Earth) ? Who formed the earth with its great bless- 
ings ? Who are the Daevas, which fight against the 
good creation ? Who slew the hostile demons ? Who 
is the truthful one, who is the liar ? How are we to 
chase away the lies, how shall I put the lies into the 
hand of Asha (Truthfulness) ? How can I come to your 
dwelling (the dwelling of the gods), and to your song ? 
Give me now the command, what ought to be and 
what ought not to be, in such a way that we attentive 
ones may understand it, Mazda, with the tongue of 
thy mouth, how am I to convert all living creatures, 
and guide them to the right path, which leads to him 
who hears the praises of the truly pious in heaven 
(Garonmana). Tell me clearly, what ye command me 
as the best, that I may keep it in my heart, and 
remember what has been forgotten, Mazda Ahura, all 
that ought to be, and ought not to be. Teach us, O 
True one, the way of Vohumano created by thee. 
Let us, Mazda, receive thy sayings which bring 


" On thee have I looked as the source in the 
creation of life, because thou, rich in gifts, didst 
establish the sacred customs and announce the words. 
He who first willed that the spaces of the sky should 
clothe themselves with lights, he in his wisdom estab- 
lishes the law of duty for the pious. In the spirit a 
man must think of thee that thou art ever the same, 
Ahura. I regarded thee as the most excellent, 
Mazda, whom thy people have to worship in spirit, as 
the father of the pious, since I saw thee with my eye, 
as the eternal law-giver of the world, living in his 
works. Since thou of old, O Mazda, didst create all 
beings and spirits according to thy will, and gave 
them reason and a material body, all men, the wise 
and the unwise, cause their voices to sound, each 
according to his heart and mind ; he who strives after 
wisdom proves in his spirit on which side is error. 
All gleaming bodies with their manifestations, every- 
thing that by Vohumano has a bright eye, the stars 
and the sun, the herald of the day, move for thy 
praise, Mazda. In thee the holy earth exists, and 
the highly-intelligent framer of the body of the earth, 
living spirit Mazda. Thou didst create the world, 
the earth with the fire that rests in its bosom. With 
pleasant fields thou didst adorn it, after taking counsel 
with Vohumano, O Mazda. Thou didst first create 
the fields, and didst devise the sayings by thy spirit, 
and the various kinds of knowledge ; thou didst then 
create this world of existence, by holy acts and speeches. 
To Mazda belongs this kingdom which he causes to 
grow by his grace." l 

"To yon, all ye that come, I will announce the 

1 " Yacna," 28, 29, 42, 43, 44, 46, according to Haug's translation, 
which is not universally accepted; " Yacna," 31 after Both. " Z. D. 
M. G." 25, 6 ft 


praises of Mazda the all-wise lord, and the hymns to 
Vohumano. O wise Asha, I will entreat that friendship 
may display itself through the stars. Hear with your 
ears the glorious, see with your spirit the clear, that 
every one for himself may choose his faith before the 
great work begins. Those two primaeval spirits, which 
are twins, represent themselves in thought, words, and 
works as this dualism, the good and the evil, and 
between both the virtuous know how to decide, but 
not the evil. When these two deities first came 
together, they created the good creatures and the bad, 
and (arranged) that at the last hell should be awarded 
to the bad and blessedness to the good. Of these two 
spirits the evil one chooses the worst way of action ; 
but the increase-giving spirit chooses virtue, he whose 
robe is the firm heaven, and those who in faith make 
Auramazda content by truthful acts. Between them 
the worshippers of the Daevas, the deceived, cannot 
rightly decide ; they chose the worst disposition, and 
came to the evil ones when in council, and together 
they hastened to Aeshma, that by him they might 
bring plagues upon the life of men. But when the 
punishment of their evil deeds shall be accomplished, 
and thy kingdom as the reward of piety shall come 
upon those who put the Druj (the lie) in the hands of 
Asha (Truthfulness), then destruction overtake the 
destroying Druj ; but those who possess high renown 
will gather as immortal in the beautiful dwellings of 
Vohumano, of Mazda, and Asha. Thus then let us 
work to make this world eternal, Auramazda, 
Asha that givest blessing ; may our thoughts be there, 
where wisdom is enthroned." 1 

" Teach me to know both, that I may walk in the 
way of Vohumano, the sacrifice, Mazda, which is fit 

1 " Ya^ua," 30, after Hiibschmann's rendering. 


for a god like thee, and the pure words of thanks- 
giving ; give me the duration over which Ameretat 
presides, and the blessings of Haurvatat. 1 May he be 
praised, who in complete truth, so far as he knows it, 
will tell the charm of Asha, the utterance of prosperity 
(Haurvatat, i. e. health and afterwards the spirit 
of prosperity and the waters) and of immortality 
(Ameretat immortality, and afterwards the spirit of 
long life and good plants)." ; " The acts, words, and 
sacrifices by which I, O Mazda, might attain immor- 
tality, purity, and power over Haurvatat, I will, so far 
as I can, perform for thee. 3 Grant to me, O most 
holy spirit, Mazda, thou who didst create the cow, the 
waters, and the plants, grant me immortality and 
health, power and duration, that I may follow the 
doctrine of Vohumano." * " From thee comes the 
nourishment of Haurvatat and Ameretat ; may piety 
(Armaiti) increase with truth under the dominion of 
Vohumano, and power and continuance as a counter- 
protection." 6 " Send us the blessing of a long life." 6 
" I ask thee, answer me truly, Ahura, When shall I 
win this re ward by truthfulness ? ten mares with their 
stallions and a camel, that Haurvatat and Ameretat 
may be in my possession, and I make an offering to 
thee of their blessings." 7 " 1 will proclaim what the 
most holy one says to me, the best word for mortals 
to hear ; those who for its sake lend ear to me, to 
those will Haurvatat and Ameretat come." " To every 
one who is a friend to him in thought and word, 
Auramazda has given power over the rich Haurvatat 
(health), over the rich Ameretat (freedom from death); 
he has given him dominion and independence and the 

1 " Ya^na," 33, 8. 2 " Ya^na," 31, 6. 8 " Ya^na," 34, 1. 
4 " Ya^na," 50, 7. 6 " Ya9na," 34, 11. 

" Ya^na," 41, 10, 11, ; c 57, 20. ' "Ya$na," 43, 18. 


riches of Vohumano/' ] " Let none of you listen to 
the counsel and command of the evil one, for he brings 
farm and community, canton and land, into distress 
and ruin, but punish him with the weapon." 2 " On 
the day when Asha will slay the Druj, on the day of 
immortality, when that comes forth, that was denied, 
when the Daevas and men will receive their reward ; 
then, Ahura, a mighty song of praise will be raised 
tothee." 3 

" To thy kingdom and thy truth, I offer praise, 
Ahura, Asha. Listen to this with kindly spirit, 
Mazda; incline thine ear, Ahura. Let the worship- 
pers of the liar be few ; may all these turn themselves 
to the priests of the truthful fire ! The good must 
rule over us, not the evil I Ahura, the all-knowing, 
cannot be deceived. I will think of thee, most 
glorious one, at the final departure of life. With 
prayers, Mazda, Asha, will I come forward to praise 
thee, and with the works of Vohumano. In your 
dwelling, wise one, sound the praises of them that 
give thanks. I will be called the singer of thy 
praises, and will continue to be so as long as I can, by 
advancing the laws of life, that the life of the world 
may continue of itself. With the verses which have 
been composed and handed down for your praise, I 
will approach both of you, and with uplifted hands. 
As a worshipper I will invoke you one and all, ye 
who give blessing, as well as all those who attain to 
the strong bridges of your blessedness, Auramazda, 
Asha, and Vohumano ; those bridges which belong to 
you. Come ye to my aid." ' 

1 " Yafna," 44, 5. The passages in the text concerning Haurvatat 
and Aineretat are given after Darmesteter, " Haurvatat et Ameretat," 
p. 35ft 

"Yticna," 31, 18. s "Yacna,"47, 1. 

* " Yapna," 47 49, according to Haug's translation. 


These are the essential traits of the doctrine of the 
Gathas. Auraraazda, himself a shining one (hvathra), 
has created the shining bodies of the heaven, the earth, 
the waters, the trees, and men ; he has appointed their 
paths for the stars. He is the sustainer of the world, 
inasmuch as he devises the good sayings (daena) for 
the protection of the good creation. He is light and 
truth, and therefore is not to be deceived ; he shows 
the right way to Zarathrustra, and gives him the 
proper charms against the evil spirits. That at this 
stage of ideas there can be no myth attached to 
Auramazda, i. e. to the concentrated essence of the 
gods of light, is obvious. In the Gathas it is only the 
quite abstract forces of Vohumano and Asha, of good 
disposition and truthfulness, which stand beside him. 
Auramazda is simply the creator and lord ; and the 
same position is ascribed to him as we saw (p. 87) in 
the inscriptions of the Achaemenids. In spite of the 
strongly-marked trait of spiritualisation and abstrac- 
tion which runs through the Gathas, there is no lack 
in them of unreflecting and naive conceptions, which 
have come down to us from ancient days. It is true 
that the contrasts in nature and men are elevated to 
the opposition of truth and falsehood, and the service 
of truth is proclaimed as the highest command ; but 
on the other hand, it is the strong fire of Auramazda 
which causes the right to be recognised, and gives 
the decision in battle. 1 It is the good sayings which 
sustain the world, i. e. the old magic of prayers and 
invocations is to keep off the evil, and increase the 
strength of the good, spirits. However high may be 
the conception of Auraraazda, he who walks in his 
way, and performs the commands of purity, not only 
expects his reward, but insists on it ; he desires to 

1 "Ya9ua,"31, 3, 19 ; 33, 3; 46, 7. 


obtain ten mares and stallions, and at least one camel ; 
he wishes for the blessings of Haurvatat in order to 
sacrifice from them ; he desires continuance and power, 
health and long life. In these traits the old con- 
trast between powers that give increase, blessing, and 
life, and powers of destruction, is plainly retained. 

From the beginning the evil one was ranged over 
against Auramazda as his twin brother. He has 
created all that is evil, but nevertheless he is without 
any independent power of creation. If the Gathas 
express this merely in such a manner that they give 
prominence to Auramazda as the creator, they were as 
far from setting up a dualism of equally -balanced 
forces, as any other religion has been from attempting 
such a task, and carrying it out. The other fragments 
of the Avesta leave no doubt of the fact, that Angro- 
mainyu was not in a position to create the world 
according to his own will ; he can only implant the 
form of evil in the good creation of Auramazda ; he 
puts desolation, destruction, and death in the place of 
increase. The Vendidad quotes a whole series of 
lands which Auramazda created good, and enumerates 
the evils which the deadly Angromainyu brought into 
each : into one winter, into another excessive heat ; 
in one case vermin, in another disease, in a third 
beasts of prey. In the same way, in opposition to 
moral good, the evil one creates idleness, lies, lust, 
doubt, disbelief. An equally poised power of the two 
deities would have led to a direct conflict between 
them, which occurs nowhere in the Avesta ; God and 
the devil only contend for the increase and injury of 
the world, and for the souls of men. The relative 
inferiority of^ the evil deity has not escaped the Greeks. 
" Some are of opinion," Plutarch says, " that there are 
two opposite deities, one of which framed the good, 


the other the evil. Others, however, name the better 
power the god, the other the demon, as Zoroaster 
the Magian. He calls one Oromazdes, the other Arei- 
manius, and states that Oromazdes most resembles 
light among perceptible things, and Areimanius gloom 
and uncertainty." 1 It is a later speculation, diverging 
from the Avesta, which formed the good and evil 
spirits into simple forces, and ranged them against 
each other with equal powers. 2 

1 Plut. " De laid." 46. 

1 From the invocation of the time without limit, Zrvana akarana, in 
the Avesta (p. 79), some have sought to draw the conclusion, that 
this is the supreme principle, and that Auramazda and Angromainyu 
proceeded from it. This is no less incorrect than if it were maintained 
that according to the Christian dogma God and the devil owed their 
origin to eternity. In the Avesta Zrvana akarana does not assume an 
important place either at the creation or in the worship. I have 
already remarked above, that the spirits of light are called in the 
Bigveda sons of Aditi, . e. of the unlimited, the eternal. Parallel 
similitudes which, however, mean no more than the eternity of the 
gods, could be made even among the Arians of Iran. But there is a 
difference between speaking in similes, and derivation from a principle. 
The faith of Iran was not a philosophical system, but a religion ; a 
religion cannot combine the good and evil god into one unity. It is 
only when speculation becomes master over religion, that conceptions 
of this kind can find a place ; and this speculation, which sought for 
primeval cosmical unity, arrived as a fact at an identical origin for the 
good and evil spirit ; but this was not the case with the Avesta. 
Centuries after the establishment of the canon we find the oldest form 
of such teaching in a demand made to the Armenian Christians that 
they should join the faith of Auramazda. In this we are told that the 
great deity Zrovan had sacrificed for a thousand years, and had 
received two sons, Ormuzd and Ahriman. The first had created heaven 
and earth, the other had opposed him with evil works. About the same 
time Theodoras of Mopsuestia in Cilicia (Phot. " Biblioth." p. 63, ed. 
Bekker), tells us : " Zoroaster called the creator of all things Zaruam, 
and described him as fate ; " and in the sixth century Damascius (" De 
prim, princip." p. 384) writes : "The Magi and the whole Arian nation 
call the Whole and One in thought, space and time respectively ; from 
this One arose the good and evil god, Oromasdes and Areimanius, or as 
others say light and darkness were divided before these." The sect of 
the Zarvanites, who deviated from the faith of Zoroaster, inasmuch as 
they carried these principles still further, has been already mentioned 
(p. 67). 


Iii the Gatlias we have the nucleus of the concep- 
tions from which the reform of the ancient faith of 
Iran arose, but not in their original state. On the 
contrary, they have been systematized in the circles 
of the priests. Hence the contents and prescripts of 
other parts of the Avesta, which do not present a 
speculative tendency, are not on that account to be 
regarded as of later origin than the Gathas least of 
all the invocations to the ancient deities. It was an 
essential object of priestly meditation to bring these 
old gods, which existed vividly before the soul of the 
nation, into harmony with the new faith. On every 
page of the Avesta it is clear that the priests of Eastern 
Iran did not attain to an accepted system in this 
direction ; that the old gods remained in existence 
beside Auramazda, and the direct contest against the 
evil spirits, after the reform as before it, was carried 
on by Mithra, Verethraghna, and Vayu, Tistrya and 
Qraosha, while Auramazda is in the background, and 
sits somewhat passively on his golden throne in the 
heaven of Garonmana. When the Avesta was written 
down and collected, the ideas of the priests were still 
so na'ive, or still preserved such a respect for the 
traditional forms of the gods of light and water, as 
they obviously lived in the mind of the people, that 
they represent Auramazda himself as offering sacrifice 
to Mithra, 1 Anahita, Vayu, and Tistrya, with Haoma 
and the sacred bundle of twigs, in order to strengthen 
their power or carry out his own wishes, just as the 
gods of the Aryas in India offer sacrifices to one 
another. In India the old gods received a subordinate 
position as prptectors of the world after the rise of 
Brahman, but in Iran this was not the case ; nor were 
they brought into any genealogical connection with 

1 "Mihr Yasht," 123. 

VOL. v. 


their new head Auramazda, though fire is occasionally 
spoken of in a figure as the son of Auramazda, and the 
earth (Armaiti) is once or twice called his daughter. 1 
The only bond of union between the new god and the 
old gods in the Avesta is the fact that Auramazda is 
made the creator of the old gods, and even of Mithra. 
Yet the old position of Mithra appears, when Aura- 
mazda says to Zarathrustra : "When I created Mithra, 
the lord of wide pastures, I created him as mighty to 
pray to, mighty to worship as myself." Tistrya also 
was created by Auramazda as worthy of adoration and 
praise as himself. 2 We are already acquainted with 
Auramazda's command to Zarathrustra to invoke and 
worship Mithra, Vayu, the other ancient gods, and 
fire (p. 131). The existence and extent of this worship 
is proved not only by the prayers of the YaQna, but 
also by the accounts of western writers which we have 
already examined. 

As a compensation for the independent life of the 
ancient gods by the side of Auramazda, the priests 
surrounded his throne with six spirits, who were his 
associates and helpers. These are called Amesha 
Qpeutas, i. e. the holy immortals ; as good and wise 
kings they rule with Auramazda over the seven girdles 
of the earth, 3 as in India the eight protectors of the 
world rule over the eight zones. The views out of 
which these spirits arose are found in the Gathas, but 
they did not receive their complete form till the 
Gathas had been composed and generally received. 
Plutarch tells us that, according to the faith of the Per- 
sians, Oromazdes had created six gods : the first, the 
god of good disposition (suvoioi) ; the second, the god 

1 Ashi vanguhi is in one passage called the daughter of Auramazda 
and Armaiti ; " Ya^na," 44, 4 ; " Vend." 19, 45 ; " Ashi Yasht," 16. 
* " Tistar Yasht," 50. * " Vend." 19 40 ; " Ya^na," 56, 10, 2. 


of truth (a^rjQsioi) ; the third, the god of order and law 
(euvo/jua) ; the three remaining deities were the gods of 
wisdom (<ro</a), of wealth (TTXOUTOJ), and of delight 
in the beautiful (sir} roUg xa.'Xdis rfiicov). The two first, 
good disposition (Vohuinano), and truth or truthfulness, 
we already found frequently mentioned in the Gathas, 
but chiefly as ideas rather than persons. With the 
priests Vohumano and Asha vahista (the most ex- 
cellent truthfulness) became the Amesha Qpentas, who 
stand next to Auramazda. The Avesta speaks not 
only of the good way of Vohumano, but also of 
his acts, his dwelling, and his kingdom. According 
to the books of the Parsees it is his duty to protect 
the flocks. Asha vahista, as the truthful one, is the 
protector of fire, which points the right path, and, 
according to the Gathas, gives the decision in the 
contest against the liars. According to the books of 
the Parsees, Asha builds the bridge of Chinvat, to 
which the souls come after death, making it wide 
when the pious souls step upon it. Not less correctly 
does Plutarch describe the third Amesha Qpenta as 
the spirit of order and law. Kshathra, i. e. the king- 
dom, the dominion, is mentioned impersonally in the 
Gathas ; and this idea the priests have elevated into 
Kshathra vairya, i. e. the good spirit of the desired 
dominion, of good order and law, which is the third 
Amesha Qpenta. Metals were allotted to him as the 
king of the Ameshas. 1 The fourth figure in this circle, 
which Plutarch correctly describes as the spirit of 
wisdom, though he is wrong in calling it a god, is the 
earth spirit Armaiti. In the Rigveda Aramati (the 
earth) is a maiden worthy of praise, who, morning 
and evening, brings butter to Agni. In the Avesta 
Armaiti is " the beautiful daughter of Auramazda, the 

1 " Visporod," 23, 1. 

M 2 


bearer (barethri) of cattle, of beasts of draught, and 
men ; " with " her hands Auramazda performs pure 
actions," while the Gathas also ascribe to her special 
relations to the corporeal world. 1 Among the priests 
the spirit of the " patient humble earth " has become 
the spirit of humility and piety. According to the 
books of the Parsees Armaiti gives patience and firm- 
ness. 2 The fifth and sixth spirits also, whom Plutarch 
calls the gods of wealth and delight in the beautiful, 
were found in existence by the priests, and merely 
ranged by them in the circle of the Amesha Qpentas. 
These are Haurvatat and Ameretat. We saw how 
earnestly the Arians of India besought the gods for 
wealth and length of life ; and in this matter the 
Arians of Iran were not behind them. Here, as 
there, ''the powers which could grant such gifts were 
elevated into special spirits, to whom, naturally, all 
that gave wealth and long life, good and healing 
plants and refreshing water, belonged. The good 
plants were the kingdom of Ameretat, refreshing water 
the domain of Haurvatat. In the fancy of the Arians 
of Iran good plants sprang from the tree of heaven, 
the Gaokerena, which grew in Ardvi9ura (p. 126) ; the 
water flowed down from this source in heaven, or came 
from Vourukasha, the lake on the divine mountain. 
Those two spirits, who ruled over plants and water, 
were brought by the system of the priests into the 
circle of the Amesha (Jpentas ; the province over which 
they ruled had long been apportioned to them. They 
were distinguished from the first four by the fact that 
those were personifications of moral ideas, these two 
were personifications of real goods. 8 With wealth, 

1 " Ya^na," 44, 4 ; 46, 2 ; 13, 6 ; " Vend." 19, 45 ; Haug, " Essays," 
p. 231. 8 Spiegel, " Eraii," 1, 435. 

3 Darmostetor, " Haurvatat et Ameretat," p. 68, 81 ff. 


prosperity and happy life is given, with length of 
life the complete enjoyment of its blessings, and so 
the Greeks could arrive at the conclusion that these 
two spirits were gods of wealth and delight in 
beauty. Thus Auramazda now ruled surrounded by 
six sacred forms. The semblance of this circle on 
earth was the throne of Cyrus and his successors, 
which was surrounded by the six tribal princes of 
the Persians. 

The personification of ideas the process of trans- 
forming old figures, and changing them into abstractions 
did not come to an end with the Amesha Qpentas. 
We are acquainted with Qraosha, the warrior against 
the Daevas, his habitation on the divine mountain, his 
horses, his club, and how he fights at the side of 
Mithra, and keeps watch in the dark of the night 
against the demons (p. 121). Now it is he who first 
sang the sacred four Gathas of Zarathrustra, who first 
bound the sacred withes, "three twigs, five twigs, 
seven twigs ; " he not only knows the sacred word ; 
the sacred word is the body of Qraosha. Instead of 
the club which he held raised against the head of the 
Daevas, the invocations of the Avesta and the prayer 
Ahuna vairya are now the weapons with which he, 
" the pure lord of the pure," " advances the world." 
We remember the process by which the Arians in 
India came to represent Indra as smiting Vritra, and 
shattering his cave, not as formerly with the lightning, 
but with Brahman, the power of the prayer and the 
sacred acts. Obviously we have some influence of 
these old Arian conceptions of the mysterious power 
of prayer, and the control of the spirits possessed by 
the correct invocations and sayings against gods and 
spectres, when we find Qraosha fighting with the 
prayers of the Avesta, and in the Avesta the sacred 


word is praised as a Divine power l when Zarathrustra 
offers sacrifice to the good law. 2 More liberal creations 
on the part of the system of the priests are the 
elevation of " excellent thought, knowledge, and con- 
ception," of "the long study," "and the thought of 
the pure man," which are invoked and praised in the 
A vesta, into Divine powers. Of not less abstract 
nature are other forms, like Rashnu razista, i. e. the 
most straight-forward justice, 3 which, according to the 
Dinkart, tests the souls on the bridge of Chinvat ; time, 
which is invoked as unlimited, as the ruler of the long 
periods, and like the genius of the five portions into 
which the priests divided the day. Of older origin, 
though also modified by the reform, is the invocation 
of the heights, which Mithra first illuminated with his 
light. In the Avesta this invocation is mainly ad- 
dressed to the high "navel of the waters," the Divine 
mountain, which reaches to the sky, " on which were 
asked the holy questions," i. e. on which Zarathrustra 
has received the revelation ; "by reason of the revel- 
ation of the sacred word we invoke the height, which 
preserved the knowledge." 4 Many of the traditional 
forms of ancient times were partly modified by the 
priests and partly allowed to fade away. The goddess 
Drva9pa, to whom the ancient heroes had sacrificed, 
they changed into the soul of the primeval bull, which 
Angromainyu had slain. 5 Nairyo9angha, the Nara- 
9ansa of the Veda, an ancient name of the spirit of 
fire, which we learned to know in the Veda as the 
messenger of men to the heavenly beings, as priest 
and mediator between heaven and earth (IV. 39), ap- 
pears in the Avesta merely as the messenger of the 

1 " Vend." 19, 3034, 54. " Din Yasht," 2. 

8 " Rashuu Yasht," 8. 4 Burnouf, /. c. p. 417, 468. 

6 " Gosh Yasht ; " Ya^na, 29 ; 39, 1 . 


gods. 1 The form of Vayu, the more ancient conception 
of which still plainly breaks through (p. 116), becomes 
merely the air " whose operation is on high ; " and 
Ashi vanguhi, whom the ancient sacrificers and heroes 
invoked, together with Ardviyura, for victory, bears 
traces which can hardly any longer be recognised. 
We merely perceive that she could once confer 
power, fertility, beauty, and wealth. We saw above 
how she called Zarathrustra to her chariot, and pro- 
mised splendour to his body, and long prosperity 
to his soul (p. 130). If the luminaries of heaven, 
in spite of the creation described to Auramazda, are 
extolled as " having no beginning," we have in this 
fact a glimpse of the old position of the spirits of light. 
The struggles of Tistrya against the demons of 
drought were allowed to remain (p. 120). Plutarch 
observes that, according to the doctrine of the Magians, 
Oromazdes had placed Sirius (Tistrya) as a watchman 
and advanced guard. On the other hand, the worship 
of the sun-god appears but faintly in the Avesta in 
our fragments at any rate. Yet Herodotus informs us 
that with the Persians the neighing of horses at sun- 
rise was regarded as a favourable sign from the gods, 
and Xenophon states that the Magians offered bulls 
to Zeus, but horses to the sun-god, and that on the 
journeys of the Achsemenids the chariot of Zeus went 
first, then that of the sun-god ; both were white and 
crowned ; and these were followed by a third chariot 
covered with purple, which as it seems was the chariot 
of fire. In the march of Xerxes to Hellas, according 
to the account of Herodotus, a sacred car, yoked with 
eight white horses, went before him ; and ten sacred 
horses were led, clothed in the most beautiful trappings. 
Curtius represents the emblem of the sun as glowing 

1 "Vend." 19, 111, 112; 22,22. 


over the tent of the last Darius, who invokes " the sun, 
Mithra, and the sacred eternal fire ; " and he tells us 
of the chariot of Zeus in the army, yoked with white 
horses, behind which was led a horse of remarkable 
size, the horse of the sun, with golden bridle and 
white covering, like those before the chariot. Dio 
Chrysostom tells us that the Magians reared a yoke 
of Nisaean horses for Zeus, t". e. for Mithra, which were 
the largest and most beautiful in all Asia, and a horse 
for Helius. 1 We can call to mind the battle-chariot 
of Mithra, " with golden wheels and silver spokes " 
(p. 110). These were imitations of the divine chariots 
of which the Greeks tell us, and if they were not in 
a position to distinguish accurately what belonged to 
Mithra (Auramazda does not come into the question), 
and what to Hvare Kshaeta (the sun-god) Strabo is 
of opinion that the Persians called the sun Mithras 2 
we may still conclude with certainty from these 
statements, that the worship of Mithra and the sun- 
god remained more vigorous and effectual among the 
princes and nations of Iran than our fragments of the 
A vesta would allow us to assume, if the old invocations 
to Mithra, Tistrya, Haoma, Vayu, and Verethraghna 
had not been preserved in them. Yet the fragments 
do present us with an invocation to the sun-god, 
though weakened, it is true, and adapted to the new 
faith. " We celebrate the brilliant, immortal sun, 
whose horses are unwearied. When the sun gleams 
in heaven, the heavenly spirits come by hundreds and 
thousands, and spread the light over the earth for the 
salvation of the pure world, for the salvation of the 
pure bodies. As the sun rises, the earth purifies 
herself, and the fructifying waters of the springs, 

1 Herod. 7, 40, 55 ; Xenoph. a Cyr. inst." 8, 3, 12 ; Curtius, 3, 3, 8 ; 
4, 48, 12. Dio Chrysost. 2, 60, ed. Dindorf. 2 p. 732. 


pools and lakes ; the sun-god purifies all creatures 
that belong to Qpentomainyu. If the sun came not, 
the Daevas would slay all that inhabits the seven 
girdles of the earth, and the heavenly beings would 
not be able to withstand them ; they could not drive 
them away. He who sacrifices to the sun in order to 
withstand the dark Daevas, the thieves and robbers, 
he sacrifices to Auramazda, to the Amesha Qpentas 
and to his own soul." l In the time of the Sassanids, 
the worship of the sun comes definitely forward. 

Plutarch states that the demon Areimanius had 
created an equal number of evil spirits to match the 
six good gods of Oromazdes, i. e. the Amesha Qpentas. 
The Vendidad mentions five of them : Andra, Qaurva, 
Naonghaithya, Tauru, and Zairicha, 2 to which we have 
only to add Akomano, which has been mentioned 
already in the Grathas, in order to make up the number. 
They are all of them creations of the priests, partly 
invented to match the Amesha Qpentas, partly borrowed 
from older forms, which had lost their brightness among 
the Arians of Iran. Akomano, i. e. Bad disposition, 
is naturally the counterpart of Vohumano, or Good 
disposition : opposite Asha vahista, i. e. the most 
excellent truthfulness, the priests placed the demon 
Andra (Indra), i. e. an old Arian name which the 
Arians beyond the Indus had elevated to be the best 
warrior against the demons, the god of the storm. 
No special qualities of Andra are known or mentioned 
in the Avesta ; the books of the Parsees can only say 
that he brings care and sorrow of heart to men, and 
makes narrow the bridge of Chinvat. The demon 
Qaurva is the opponent of Kshathra vairya, of order 
and law, of good dominion ; hence, according to the 

1 " Khorshotl Yasht," in De Harloz, " Avestiv," p. 34. 

2 10, 17, 18. 


Sad-der-Bundehesh, he leads kings astray into despot- 
ism, and nations into lawlessness and robbery. Naon- 
ghaithya is the opponent of Arraaiti, the spirit of 
humility and piety ; this spirit therefore, as the Bun- 
dehesh maintains, makes men impatient and proud ; 
the science of languages claims to find in this name 
a Vedic name for the two A^vins, Nasatya (IV. 42). 
Only the last two opposing spirits of the Amesha 
Qpentas, the opponents of Haurvatat and Ameretat, 
display, like these beings, real characteristics. If they 
are the spirits of water and plants, of prosperity and 
long life or immortality, then Tauru Is the spirit 
of thirst and sickness, and Zairicha of hunger and 
death. 1 

If the ancient gods have preserved more lively traits 
than the Amesha Qpentas, the old demons have also 
more definite outlines than the opposing spirits. Such 
are the Daeva Apaosha, who parches up the land and 
keeps back the water from the earth ; Qpenjaghra, the 
comrade of him who was struck by lightning ; Zemaka, 
the spirit of the cold winter ; and finally Azhi, who 
seeks to steal away the fire from men in the night. 
Among these evil spirits may further be reckoned a 
female demon Bushyan9ta, with long hands and of a 
yellow hue, who leads men astray into much sleep and 
idleness, who does not allow them to see the rise of 
the sun, and shortens the joy of existence ; 2 the three 
Daevas of drunkenness, Kunda, Banga, and Vibanga ; 
the Daeva Buiti, the spirit of lies and falsehood, who 
deceives men; 8 the spirit of flattery, Ashemaogha ; 4 and 
the very wicked Ashma "of evil glance," who attempts 

1 M Zamyad Yasht," 96 ; Darmesteter, I. c. p. 10. 

" Vend." 18, 38. " Vend." 19, 6, 146. 

Burnouf, " Journ. Asiatic," 1845, p. 433. 


to slay the sleeping, and withstands Qraosha by night 
with terrible weapons. 1 Very evil also is Actovidhotu, 
i. e. the destroyer of bodies, and a female goblin, the 
spirit of the Daevas, the Druj Nau. This spirit enters 
the body immediately after death, and exercises power 
over all who come in contact with it. 

Under Auramazda are united the gods, the Amesha 
Qpentas, the rest of the Yazatas (those worthy of 
adoration), in opposition to the troops of hell, the 
Daevas, Druj, Pairikas and Jainis, which are led by 
Angromainyu. The first are found in the light of 
sunrise, in the clear gleam of the pure sky ; the latter 
in the gloom of sunset, or in the distant clouds of the 
north ; in burial-places, and where the dead are placed ; 
in all corners into which the light of heaven does not 
pierce ; in the dark abyss under earth ; in " the worst 
place." 2 On the summit of the mountain Arezura 
(Demaveud, apparently), they take counsel how they 
are to turn the evil eye on men ; how they can injure 
and slay them. 3 To them belong gloom, cold, drought, 
the barren land and the wilderness, thorns and 
poisonous herbs, hunger and thirst, sickness, death, 
dirt, laziness, lying, sin. Theirs are the harmful 
beasts, the Khraf9tras ; beasts of prey, wolves, ser- 
pents ; all animals which live in holes and corners, 
lizards, scorpions, toads, frogs, rats, mice, gnats, and 
lastly mosquitoes, lice, and fleas. 4 To the good spirits 
belong light, water, springs, rivers, the fruitful earth, 
good plants, 5 trees, fields, pastures, good food, purity, 
truth, life in this world and the next ; and theirs are 
the good animals, the animals of the flocks, the birds 

1 "Vend." 10, 23. Windischmann, " Zoroastrische Studien," s. 138. 

2 "Vend." 19, 147. 3 "Vend." 4, 139. 

4 " Vend." 12, 65, 71 ; 14, 9 ff. ; Plut. " De laid." c. 46 ; Agath. 2, 24. 
6 Plut. " De laid." c. 46. 


which nestle on the heights, and live in the clear air. 
The dog and the cock are worshipped in the A vesta 
as fighting with men against the Daevas. The first 
protects the flocks against the beasts of prey of 
Angromainyu. Of the cock the Avesta says : " The 
bird Parodarsh, which evil-speaking men call Kahzkata9 
(t. e. Kikeriki or the like), lifts up his voice in the 
last third of the night, roused by the holy Qraosha 
at every divine dawn. He cries : * Rise up, ye men ; 
praise the most excellent truth ; drive away the Daevas/ 
Who gives a pair of these birds to a pure man, in 
purity and kindness, gives as much as if he had given 
a palace with a thousand pillars and a thousand 
beams, ten thousand windows, and a hundred thousand 
turrets/' "And whoever gives to a pure man as 
much meat as makes the size of a Parodarsh " the 
book of Auramazda tells us in another place " I 
who am Auramazda will ask him no other question 
on his way to Paradise." l According to the Avesta 
the dog and cock unite their powers against the 
Druj. 2 The bird Asho-zusta fights against the 
Daevas, and the bird Karshipta (the sacred hawk) 
announces the good law in the garden of Yima. 
Two other mythical birds, the two eagles ($aena) of 
the sky, Amru and Chamru, are invoked as helpful 
powers. 3 They nestle on the tree of life in the 
heaven. Besides the tree Gaokerena, which grows 
in Ardviura and bears the heavenly Haoma, the 
Avesta has also the tree Vi9pataokhma, which grows 
in the Lake Vourukasha, and bears all seeds. When 
Amru sits on this tree, the seeds fall down, and Chamru 
carries them away where Tistrya collects the water, 
who then rains down the seed with the water to the 

" Vend." 18, 3437 ; 6469. * Gt " Bundehesh," c. 19. 

a " Yasht Farvardin," 109 ; " Yasht Bahrain," 1921. 


earth. In the book of kings of Firdusi, Simurgh (Qin- 
murv), the king of the birds, carries Rustem on his 
pinions over the broad earth as far as the sea of Chin 
(China) to the tree of life. 1 A prophet of the Hebrews 
represents Jehovah as saying of Cyrus : " I summoned 
from the East the eagle, the man of my counsel." 5 
Xenophon tells us that Cyrus, and the Achsemenids 
who succeeded him, carried as a standard a golden 
eagle on a tall lance ; 3 and Curtius says, that a golden 
eagle with outspread wings was attached to the 
chariots of the Persian king. 4 

The fragments of the Avesta which have been pre- 
served do not give us very full information on the 
sacrifices. The -essential matters are hymns of praise 
and prayers. The chief sacrifice is oifered to one of 
the old deities, Haoma, the supporter and protector of 
life. When Plutarch represents the Magi as pounding 
a certain herb of the name of Omomi in a mortar, 
with invocations to avert Hades, he gives a correct 
account of the supposed tendency of this sacrifice. 
According to the Avesta the utensils for this sacrifice 
the mortar, cup and bundle of twigs were found in 
every house. The sacrifice consisted in the offering, 
i. e. the elevation of the cup filled with the juice of 
the Haoma, during the recitation of the proper prayers. 
Beside this offering, which even now is offered twice 
each day by the priests of the Parsees, the fire is to 
be kept up perpetually, and fed with good dry wood 
and perfumes. The flesh of the sacrifice (myazdd) is 

1 Kuhn, " Horabkunft des Feuers," s. 125; Dannesteter, loc. cit. 
p. 55. (^imnurv has arisen out of Caena (Cin), i. e. eagle, and meregha, 
" bird ; " Middle Pers. murv ; New Pers. murgh. In New Pers. Qin- 
murv becomes Simurgh. 

2 Isaiah xlvi. 11. In Aeschylus also an eaglo represents the Persians 
and a falcon the Hellenes ; " Pers." 205210. 

8 " Cyri instit." 7, 1, 4. * 3, 7. 


not often mentioned ; yet the book of the law provides 
that a thousand head of small cattle must be offered 
in expiation of certain offences, 1 and we are told in 
the invocations that the heroes of old time, from 
Thraetaona down to King Vistapa, had offered great 
sacrifices of animals to Ardvi9ura and Drvagpa, in 
order to gain the victory, viz. 100 horses, 1000 
cattle, and 10,000 head of small cattle. Herodotus 
tells us that the Magians, when Xerxes marched 
into Hellas, sacrificed 1000 oxen on the summit of 
Pergamus to Athene of Ilium, and at a later time 
white horses in Thrace ; Xenophon maintains that the 
Persians sacrificed beautiful bulls to Zeus, i. e. to 
Auramazda, and horses to the sun, and burnt them 
whole ; Athenaeus tells that with the king of the 
Persians a thousand animals were daily slaughtered 
as sacrifices ; camels, horses, oxen, apes, deer, and 
especially sheep. According to Arrian, the Magians 
who kept guard over the burial-place of Cyrus received 
a horse every month, and a sheep every day, for sacri- 
fice. 2 Herodotus has already told us, that the animals 
were led to a pure place, and when the sacrificer had 
invoked the god were killed, cut up, cooked, and then 
laid out on delicate grass. The Magian then sang the 
theogony, and after some time, the person who offered 
the sacrifice " carried away the flesh, and used it at his 
pleasure " (p. 85). Herodotus is better informed than 
Xenophon ; according to the Avesta only the head of 
the animal belongs to the gods. 3 Obviously, as the 
nature of the gods became more spiritualised and the 
reform prepared the way for this the sacrifice of 

' "Vend." 18, 137, 138, 149. 

8 Xenopbon, "Cyri instit." 8, 3, 11, 24; Athon. p. 145; Arrian, 
"Anab."6, 29. 

8 " Ya9na," 10, 38, 1 1, 16. Strabo, p. 732, tolls us that tho doity of 
the Persians received nothing from the sacrifice. 


animals was restricted in this manner, so that it con- 
sisted essentially in the offering of the animals, i. e. in 
the consecration of the flesh. We may conclude from 
the statement in Athena3us, that only consecrated 
flesh could be eaten at the court of the kings. Xerxes 
certainly would not have sacrificed to Athene, " a lying 
deity " of the Greeks, on the summit of Ilium ; but he 
might very well have selected the last eminence in 
Asia Minor, "the many-fountained Ida," in order to 
offer there a sacrifice of 1000 oxen to Ardvi9ura for 
his victory beyond the sea a sacrifice which corre- 
sponds exactly to the first offering made by Kava 
Hucrava and Kava Vistapa to the same goddess for 
victory over the Turanians. 1 

Temples and images are unknown to the Avesta. 
The reform preserved for the nations of Iran the 
traditional form of worship without images, on which 
it was founded. The accounts of western writers, from 
Herodotus and Xenophon downwards, establish the 
fact that there were only sacrificial places on the 
heights and consecrated fire-altars in Iran. 2 But 
this must not be taken to mean that the forms of 
worship and the images of the nations with which the 
Persians became acquainted after the foundation of 
their supremacy, especially of their nearest neighbours, 
the Semites on the Tigris and Euphrates, remained 

1 What Herodotus tells us of the sacrifice of girls and boys by the 
Magi in Thrace contradicts his own statement that the Magi did not 
venture to kill any one, and the whole conception of the Avesta. If 
Cambyses is said to have caused twelve Persians to bo buried alive, this 
is not to be regarded as a sacrifice, but as a barbarous form of execution, 
which occurs also under the Sassauids. What Herodotus says of the 
fourteen boys offered by Amestris as a sacrifice, if true, must have its 
origin in some other superstition, not in the Avesta ; and the actions 
of Amestris and Parysatis in this direction, as recorded by Ctesias, 
were in any cases crimes, not sacrifices. 

8 Strabo, p. 732. 


without influence on them. On the monuments of 
Darius we see the picture of Auramazda, cut exactly 
after the pattern which the Assyrian monuments 
exhibit in the portraiture of their god Asshur. We 
are also told of images of Anahita. Berosus maintains 
that Artaxerxes Mnemon erected statues to Aphrodite 
Anaitis at Babylon, Ecbatana, and Susa, and taught 
this form of worship to the Damascenes and Lydians. 1 
From this statement, taken in connection with the 
account of Herodotus that the Persians had learnt to 
sacrifice to Mylitta, 2 the conclusion has been drawn 
that Artaxerxes II. introduced the worship of Bilit 
among the Persians. But it was not necessary to 
teach this worship to the Damascenes and Lydians 
(I. 358, 563), and even in the Avesta, Anahita as the 
goddess of the heavenly water is the goddess of fertility. 
Hence the statues made by Artaxerxes were, no doubt, 
images of Anahita the goddess, whom he invokes along 
with Auramazda and Mithra in his inscription at 
Susa. Strabo describes the worship of the Magians at 
the fire-altars of Cappadocia in a manner which com- 
pletely agrees with the accounts given in the Avesta, 
and then adds that these functions were also per- 
formed in the enclosures (<rrjxo/) which were conse- 
crated there to Anaitis, Amardatus, and Omanus, and 
the image of Omanus was carried round in processions. 
He concludes with the words : " this (i. e. the form of 
worship described) I have myself seen." 3 According 
to this account, then, Amardate, 4 i. e. the Amesha 
Qpenta Ameretat, who averts death, was worshipped 
there beside Anahita, and Omanus, i. e. the Amesha 
Qpenta Vohumano, the protector of the flocks, had 

1 Fragin. 16, ed. Muller. 8 1, 131. Strabo, p. 733. 

4 Windischuiaim has shown, " Abh. Bair. Akad. phil. philol. Kl." 8, 
90 120 that 'AtaSarot must be road for ' 


an image. As this is all that we can discover about 
the image-worship of the Persians, it is clear that the 
influence of the picture-worship of Hither Asia and 
Egypt had no great influence even on the western 
nations of Iran. It is limited to the facts that Darius 
added the symbolical picture of Auramazda to his in- 
scriptions without, however, building him a temple ; 
that a century after him Artaxerxes II. erected statues 
and a temple to Anahita at Ecbatana ; and that at a 
later time a portable image of Vohumano was in 
existence in Cappadocia. 

The nucleus of the old religious conceptions of the 
Arians the desire to obtain increase and life from 
the gods has been sufficiently disclosed ; and that 
which could not be obtained in this world, the con- 
tinuance of the individual life, heaven was to bestow 
upon them. This line was followed up by the reform ; 
the spirits of health and long life were added by the 
priests to the circle of the Amesha Qpentas. When 
Zarathrustra had increased the means for the pro- 
tection and support of life ; when it became a fixed 
maxim that purity preserved life in this world and 
ensured it after death ; the sharp insistence on the 
command of the pure and active and truthful life 
which men ought to lead in this world, became 
developed into the conception of a judgment on the 
souls after death. He who had lived purely, and 
given the Daevas no room to exercise their power on 
his body, became himself pure and bright, and could 
therefore enter after death as a pure spirit among the 
spirits of light. Thus the A vesta announces that 
" when body and soul have separated," the soul on 
the third night after death, as soon as the brilliant sun 
arises, and the victorious Mithra seats himself with 
" pure brilliance " on the mountains, comes over the 

VOL. V. 


Kara berezaiti to the bridge of Chinvat, t. e. the bridge 
of assembly or of assembling, which leads to Garon- 
mana, t. <?. to the dwelling of hymns, the abode of the 
good gods. Here the Daevas and the gods contend for 
the soul; 1 the judgment of the souls takes place; 2 
here Auramazda asks the souls about their conduct. 3 
The pure soul, whose odour the Daevas dread, 4 which 
approaches with virtue and sanctity, is joined by the 
other pure souls and by the souls of the dogs which 
keep watch over the bridge of Chinvat, 5 and the host 
of the heavenly Yazatas brings the soul of the good 
over the bridge into heaven. In contentment the 
pure soul goes to the golden throne of Auramazda, to 
the thrones of the Amesha Qpentas, to the dwelling of 
the pure. And Vohumano rises from his golden 
throne and inquires of the pure one : " How hast 
thou, pure one, come hither out of the perishable to 
the imperishable world ? " But the souls which come 
to the bridge full of terror and sick, find no friend 
there ; the evil spirits, Vizaresha by name, lead them 
bound down into the place of the bad, into the dark- 
ness, the dwelling of the Druj. 7 

In the Veda the spirits of the fathers are invited to 
the sacrificial meal ; they are to enjoy the gifts which 
are laid for them on the grass, to support the prayers 
of their descendants, to keep away the evil spirits, and 
to increase wealth. Each day water was poured there 
for the forefathers, and corns of rice were scattered for 
them ; on the new moon the clans held the funeral 
feast for the dead ; and we are acquainted with the 
consequences which attended expulsion from this 

i " Vend." 7, 132136 ; 19, 90100. * " Vend." 19, 89. 

" Vend." 18, 68, 69. * " Vend." 19, 108. 

* "Vend." 13, 22, 25. "Vend." 19, 100108. 

i " Vend." 8, 252, 310 ; 19, 94 ; cf. 3, 118121. In the Dinkart the 
proceedings on the bridge are related at greater length. 


banquet. 1 The belief in the spirits of the ancestors, 
and their continued relation to their descendants, 
existed also among the Arians of Iran, and the Avesta 
alters it only so far as to limit consistently the assist- 
ance given by the spirits of the fathers to the souls of 
those who have lived in truth and purity, and have 
thus found entrance into heaven. According to the 
Avesta the Fravashis of the pure this is the name 
given to the Pitaras, or fathers of the Indians protect 
their descendants against the Daevas, help them in 
distress and danger, and fight for their families on the 
day of battle, if they are honoured and satisfied by 
their descendants. It is only an old conception, 
repeated in the Avesta, when we are told : " We 
invoke the good, strong, holy Fravashis. Where 
strong men fight in severe conflict, there come the 
Fravashis with strong shield, iron helmet, and iron 
weapons; with Mithra and the victorious wind they go 
forward ; strong warriors against the enemies, they are 
mighty saviours ; strong conquerors, they destroy the 
victory of the enemy the Turas (Turanians)." 2 It is 
due to the additions and modifications introduced 
by the priests that we hear that the hosts of the 
Fravashis watch the body of Kere9ac,pa till the resur- 
rection, and the seed of Zarathrustra, and protect the 
sleepers from the rising of the stars till midnight. 3 
As among the Arians of India the ancient belief in 
the fathers was retained in spite of all changes of 
the religious system, so also in Iran. At the close of 
the year, on the intercalary days which were added 
to it, the Fravashis come to their families, abide among 
them for ten nights, and ask : " Who will receive us, 
and sacrifice to us, and praise us ? " and " if any one 

Vol. IV., 61, 163, 230. 2 " Farvardin Yasht," 3548, 70, 71. 
8 " Fareardin Yasht," 61, 62. 

N 2 


offers to them prayers and flesh and clothes, him they 
bless, and in his dwelling there will be abundance of 
oxen and men, swift horses and a strong car." J The 
Greeks had therefore reason to say that according to 
the doctrine of the Magians the air was full of spirits. 2 
In another direction the system of the priests 
deviated far more widely from the ancient conception 
of the spirits of the ancestors. They held that only 
the pure and bright part of the soul could live on 
after death. Hence, even in the living they dis- 
tinguished this part from the polluted part, and in 
the pure immortal half they saw the side created by 
the good gods, its true being, the Fravashi or protect- 
ing spirit allotted to each man. In the Avesta there- 
fore rules can be given for the invocation of this pure 
part and nature of the individual soul, of the separate 
Fravashis. The priests then transferred this notion to 
the heavenly spirits, and even to Auramazda himsell 
His purest nature, his best self, must be praised and 
invoked for aid. Auramazda says to Zarathrustra in 
the book of the law : " Zarathrustra, praise thou my 
Fravashi, the Fravashi of Auramazda, the greatest, 
best, most intelligent, best-formed, highest in holiness, 
whose soul is the holy word." 8 And in the prayers 
we are told : " We praise the Fravashis of the Amesha 
Qpentas, of the holy Qraosha, of Mithra, together with 
all the Fravashis of the heavenly Yazatas. I invoke the 
Fravashi of the holy Zarathrustra, the Fravashis of the 
men of the ancient law, and the Fravashis of the men 
of the new law, the good mighty Fravashis of the 
pure, of the nearest relations, and of my own soul." 4 
The Persians at the king's gate, according to the 

" Farvardin Yasht," 5052. " Diogen. Laert. " Prooem." 6. 

' " Vend." 19, 46, 48. 

" Ya^na," 1, 47 ; 23, 6 ; Buraouf, " Commentaire," p. 571. 


Greeks, set apart a separate table at each meal with 
bread and food for the " demon " of the king, and at a 
Persian banquet the host, according to Plutarch, calls 
on his guests, "to honour the demon of king Arta- 
xerxes." Hence it clearly follows that the priestly 
doctrine of the Fravashis of the living was current 
even in Western Iran under the Acbsemenids. 1 

Zarathrustra had increased the means for keeping 
off the evil ones, and had made the struggle against 
the wicked spirits easier for men. But the time will 
come when the struggle will be no longer necessary, 
and the bright spirits alone will rule. This doctrine 
is indicated even in the Gathas. 2 In the book of the 
law Zarathrustra says to Angromainyu : he will smite 
the Daevas till Qaoshyant is born from the water of 
Kanc,ava in the eastern region. 3 Qaoshyant, i.e. the 
useful, the saviour, is called in the A vesta, "the 
sublime, the victorious ; " he will smite the Druj, and 
Aeshma will bow before him. He will make the 
world to live for ever, without age and death ; the 
dead will rise again, and the living will be immortal. 
Vohumano will smite Akomano, Asha will kill the 
lies. Haurvatat and Ameretat will destroy thirst and 
hunger : " The evil-doer Angromainyu, robbed of his 
dominion, bows himself." * This doctrine of the Avesta 
also was well known to the western world. In Hero- 
dotus Prexaspes tells Cambyses that when the dead 
rise again he will see Smerdis and Astyages. 5 Theo- 
pompus of Chios tells us : Zoroaster had proclaimed 
that there would be a time in which the dead will 
arise, and men will be immortal, and everything will 

1 Pint. "[Artax." 15 ; Theopomp. Fragm. 135, ed. Muller. 

"Ya9na," 45, 3; 47, 1 ; above, p. 156. 

8 " Vend." 19, 1719; above, p. 135. 

" Zamyad Yasht," 89, 95, 96. * 3, 62. 


be done by their invocations. Last of all, Hades will 
pass away ; men will then be happy ; they will need no 
nourishment, and throw no shadows, and the god who 
will accomplish this rests for a time, but not a long 
time for a god. 1 It is true that men required no 
nourishment when Qaoshyant had appeared, in the 
meaning of the Avesta, for Haurvatat and Ameretat 
had overcome hunger and thirst as well as sickness 
and death ; and as the dark side of man was taken 
away, and only the bright side remained, they could 
not cast any shadows. 

As already remarked, it was part of the duty of the 
priests to bring the ancient legends of the old time into 
harmony with the new doctrine. We saw that the 
legends of Iran began with the happy age of Yima, 
and his reign of a thousand years full of increase and 
blessing. This conception of a perfect age for the 
creatures of earth at the very beginning of things did 
not suit with the struggle, which, according to the new 
doctrine, Angromainyu commenced immediately after 
the creation. The priests, therefore, conceived the 
beginning of things in a different manner. In their 
system Auramazda first created the heaven, then the 
water, then the earth and the trees, and after these 
the four-footed bull, and the two-legged pure man 
Gayo maretan. 2 In the Avesta the primeval bull and 
man are at the head, and time extends from Gayo 
maretan to Qaoshyant. 3 The books of the Parsees 
then tell us that Angromainyu killed the primeval 
man and bull, but from the seed of the bull proceeded 
a pair of oxen, and then all kinds of good animals ; 
and out of the seed of Gayo maretan grew up the first 

1 Thcopomp. Fragm. 71, 72, od. Miiller. 

8 "Yayna," 19, 1618. 

3 " Ya^na," 26, 32 ; "Farvardin Yasht," 135. 


man and the first woman. As we have already re- 
marked, our fragments of the Avesta identify the soul 
of the first created bull with the Drva9pa, the ancient 
guardian spirit of the flocks; next to Gayo maretan 
they place Haoshyangha, the Paradhata (p. 36), and 
represent him as sacrificing to Ardviura, Vayu, and 
Ashi vanguhi, in order to obtain the dominion over 
the evil spirits. 1 After him Takhmo urupa rules the 
earth of seven parts ; he sacrifices to Vayu in order to 
obtain grace to restrain Angromainyu for thirty years. 2 
Then, according to the system of the priests, follows 
the dominion of Yima the son of Vivanghana, during 
which there was no cold and no heat, no age and no 
death, as was represented in the old views. Yima 
kindles the red -glowing fire. Flocks and men, i. e. 
life, increase ; and the earth must be made larger. 'The 
end of this happy period, and the death of Yima, is 
brought about, according to the priests, by the fact that 
Yima refused to be the preacher of the doctrine of 
Auramazda, that he was unable to maintain purity 
and truth, and began to "love lying speech" (p. 41). 
As Yima was born to Vivanghana as a reward for his 
Haoma sacrifice, there follows a series of those who 
have offered the sacrifice : Athwya, Thrita, Pouru- 
shapa, and their sons. To the first Thraetaona was 
born, who smites the serpent Dahaka ; to Thrita Kere- 
^acpa, who smites the serpent Qruvara ; and to Pouru- 
shaypa was born Zarathrustra, who receives the law 
of Auramazda and proclaims it ; by this law the 
Daevas will be warded off till Qaoshyant appears, 
when everything which has once had life will come 
to life again. 

i u Aban Yasht," 2123 ; " Farvardin Yasht," 157 ; " Ashi Yasht," 
24 ; " Zamyad Yasht," 26. 
8 "Earn Yasht," 11 ;" Zamyad Yasht," 28. 



IN the form in which we have them the books of the 
A vest' i are the work of the priests of Eastern Iran. 
AccorJing to the evidence repeatedly furnished by, 
them, there were three orders in Sogdiana and Bactria : 
priests, warriors, and husbandmen. This sequence, 
which is uniformly preserved both in the invocations 
and in the book of the law, shows that the priests 
had risen above the warriors, and claimed to be the 
first of the three orders. 1 

In considering the civilisation of the Bactrian king- 
dom we found ourselves compelled by the proximity 
of the nations of the steppes to assume, that when 
the Arians had become established there, the tribes 
which had a capacity or love for battle, undertook the 
protection of the land, the flocks and fields, against 
the incursions of the nomads of the north, and made 
battle and strife their special vocation. Such attacks 
increased with the increasing culture of Bactria, and 
led to a consolidation of powers ; these clans raised 
one of their number distinguished in battle to be their 

1 "Vend." 2, 8789; " Yac,na," 14, 46. If in ".Yacna," 19, 46 
four occupations are mentioned instead of the four orders, and artisans 
are added to the husbandmen, this is only another theory, which does 
not, however, alter the series and system ; in India the order of Vai9yaa 
comprises husbandmen, merchants, and artisans. 


leader, or followed him, and thus was laid the basis 
for the foundation of a great state. The importance 
ascribed in the Avesta to the splendour of majesty we 
find the personification of good government in the 
Avesta among the Amesha Qpentas in combination 
with the battles which, as we learn from the book, the 
princes of Bactria carried on against the Turanians, and 
with the statements in the West Iranian Epos about 
the kingdom of the Bactrians, together with the later 
condition of the country, allowed us to draw the con- 
clusion that at one time the kings of Bactria were not 
without power and importance. They reigned, sur- 
rounded by the families of the warriors, who were 
enabled by their possessions in lands and flocks, to 
devote themselves to the practice of arms and to 
battle. The invocations to Mithra, Verethraghna, 
and Vayu, bear upon them very evident traces of a 
war-like spirit (p. 110, 114). That the spirits of the 
sky, which once fought with the cloud-dragons, have 
become mortal heroes in the Avesta, also proves 
since even among other nations the Epic poetry which 
follows periods of warlike excitement transforms shapes 
of the sky into heroes of old time that once on a 
time Bactria had experienced a period of warfare, 
when difficulties arose which it was mainly the busi- 
ness of the monarchy and the nobles to settle. The 
Avesta can tell us of arms and robes as well as of 
palaces with pillars and turrets ; of earthen, iron, 
silver and golden vessels ; of mats, carpets, and adorn- 
ments of gold, 1 such as are found among noble 
families ; and those hecatombs of horses, cattle, and 
sheep which the heroes in the Avesta sacrifice to 
Anahita and Drvacpa, in order to obtain their favour 
by victory, are no doubt borrowed from the sacrifices 

1 " Vend." 8, 254. 


which princes and nobles were wont to offer in cases 
where the numbers must be enlarged in honour of the 
heroes. Yet we see that Xerxes orders a thousand 
oxen to be sacrificed at one time. We have already 
shown (IV. 390), how important and pre-eminent 
was the position which the races of the warriors, " the 
princes," occupied on the Indus and the Ganges, and 
what respect they commanded among " the free In- 
dians " in the Panjab, even in the fourth century B.C. 
That a warlike nobility of a similar character, attitude, 
and position, existed in Eastern Iran, is the less to be 
doubted, as the order of warriors in the Avesta is 
denoted by a name (rathaestar) which goes back to the 
chariots of war. The husbandmen, who were settled 
beside and among them, bear in the Avesta the name 
of Vactrya, 1 but the word Vae9u is also used for them, 
which simply repeats the name of the Indian Vaiyas. 
Like the Arians of India, the Arians of Iran believed 
in the power of the correct invocations, prayers, and 
sacrifice ; among them also the sacrifice strengthens 
the gods and increases their power. In India too, 
the priests, and minstrels, and sacrificers handed down 
in their families the knowledge of the effective invoc- 
ations and ceremonies which exercised compulsion on 
the gods, and the same was the case in Eastern Iran ; 
priestly families arose at a very early period. They 
did not here retain the name of supplicators, as in 
India ; but are called Athravas in the Avesta. In the 
Veda Atharvan kindles the sacrificial fire, and among 
the Arians of India the incantations of the race of 
Atharvan passed from the most powerful. In a similar 
way powerful invocations and sentences were handed 
down in Iran from father to son in the race of the 

1 Under the Sassanids we find a chief of the husbandmen (vaftrioean), 
ard a chief of the warriors (artheatnran) ; Noldoke, " Tabari," a. 110. 


Athravas. These families preserved the ancient in- 
vocations to Mithra, Verethraghna, Anahita, Tistrya, 
which are preserved to us in the Avesta, though in a 
modified form. The god Haoma instructs Zarathrustra 
to praise him, as the other fire-priests had done 
(p. 124). The reform which bears the name of Zara- 
thrustra cannot have left the condition of the priests 
unchanged. The doctrine may, as invocations in the 
Avesta would seem to show, have first found adherents 
in the race of Haechataypa, to which Zarathrustra 
belonged, and to which he first proclaimed his law 
(131), and next in the race of Jama9pa and Fra- 
shaostra, who are spoken of as Zarathrustra's most 
zealous followers. According to the creed of the 
Parsees the good law also came to Aderbat Mahresfaiit 
by family descent (p. 62). These new races of priests, 
who knew the sayings, invocations, and prayers of 
Zarathrustra, would then be joined by those among 
the races of the old fire-priests who approved of 
the reform, and the priesthood thus formed would be 
further strengthened by those who, deeply impressed 
by the new doctrine, sought and found reception as 
pupils into a family of the priests, thus entering into 
their circle, and becoming members of their families. 
United by a new doctrine and settled tenets, the 
priests who represented the reform would become 
united together more firmly than the priestly families 
of the old time. 

The priesthood could very well claim precedence 
of the warriors ; on their prayers and sayings, their 
knowledge of the custom of sacrifice, depended the 
favour of the gods, the power of averting evil spirits, 
the removal of pollution, salvation in this world and 
the next. Yet they could not obtain such a position 
as the Brahmans held on the Ganges after the reform of 


the ancient faith, and the victory of Brahman over 
Indra. For in Iran there was no order of Qudras, no 
vanquished remnant of an old population, which 
created a sharp line of division even among the orders 
of the Aryas ; and moreover the Brahmans were the 
first-born of Brahman, a purer incarnation of the divine 
nature than any other order. The world had not 
emanated from Auramazda ; there were in Iran no 
gradations of beings in which the divine essence 
existed in a more or less pure condition. All had to 
fight against evil deities and against evil ; the priests 
were the leaders in this struggle this leadership and 
nothing more could they claim. In their lives they 
studied especial purity of body and mind ; and they 
were pre-eminently " the pure men." Only by their 
means, at any rate with their assistance, could sacrifice 
be offered ; from their mouths alone could the correct 
invocations be uttered to the gods, and the evil ones 
be driven away. Men were compelled to submit to 
the rules of the life acceptable to the gods of light, of 
pure conversation, which were accurately known to the 
priests only ; they had to take upon themselves the 
expiations which the priests prescribed, in order to 
wipe out offences and sins and their consequences 
but they had not to reverence in them, as was the case 
beyond the Indus, a class of creatures raised by birth 
to a higher level. Hence the sharp separation of the 
priesthood from the rest of the orders, in the Brah- 
manic fashion, was at once placed out of the question. 
The priesthood of Iran perpetuated their knowledge 
and wisdom in their families ; but they had not the 
right to bar all entrance into their families or their 
order on the score of higher birth, or to prohibit the 
marriage of priests with women of other orders, on 
the ground of their superior nature. 


From our fragments of the Avesta we may assume 
that although, as is obvious, the precedence of the 
priests above the remaining orders was strongly marked, 
and they were especially denoted as " pure men," the 
limits of their political and social position were far 
more modest than those of the Brahmans. So far as 
we can see, the Avesta allots no special income to the 
priests beyond the camels, horses, or small cattle given 
to them by warriors and husbandmen in quittance for 
the purifications they have performed. The penalties 
also which have to be paid in expiation of certain 
offences are to be given to " the pure men," and the 
Avesta repeatedly recommends the presentation of 
gifts to them. On the other hand, the priests do not 
possess the exclusive right to perform purifications. 
The Vendidad merely says that any one who wishes to 
perform purifications must have learned the law from 
one of the purifiers, i. e. it is only the instruction of 
the priest which is indispensable in this matter. Any 
one who performs purification without such instruction 
(except in the case of necessary purifications, p. 230), 
will take away from the places where it is performed, 
" food and fatness, health and all remedies, prosperity, 
luxuriance and growth, and increase of corn and 
fodder ; and corn and fodder will not return to such 
places until for three days and nights the holy Qraosha 
has been praised at the burning fire with bound withes 
and uplifted Haoma." The uncertified purifier is to 
be put in chains, his clothes taken from him, and his 
head cut off. 1 If it was permitted to learn the purifi- 
cations, it follows that men not of priestly descent 
could enter the order of the Athravas, and the boundary 
line between this order and the rest was not impassable. 
Among the Parsees of India any one can become a 

1 "Vend." 9, 172180, 187196. 


priest. The duties of the priest, according to the 
book of the law, consist in watching and tending the 
sacred fire, in praising the good spirits, in offering 
sacrifice, and performing purifications, and in the 
OMBelcss study of til-- holy scriptnm Tin- prii-st is i<> 
be provided with a mortar made according to certain 
rules, a cup (for the Haoma sacrifice), the snake-switch 
(a stick for killing impure animals), and the Paitidana, 
i. e. a piece of cloth for veiling the mouth, in order that 
he may not approach the sacred fire with breath that 
is possibly impure. For the rest, the Vendidad lays 
down the rule that the priests are to be patient and 
content, and satisfied with a little bread, and they 
ought to eat what is offered to them. 1 Auramazda 
says ; " Many men, Zarathrustra, carry the Paitidana, 
the serpent-switch, the sacred bundle of twigs, without 
being guided according to the law. These are wrongly 
called priests ; do not thou call them priests, Zara- 
tbrustra. He who lies the whole night without praising 
or hearing, or reciting, or learning, or teaching call 
not such an one a priest. Call him a priest, pure 
Zarathrustra, who inquires of the pure intelligence 
the whole night, of the wisdom which purifies from 
sins and makes the heart wide, which has merits in store 
on the bridge of Chinvat, and causes us to attain the 
purity and bliss of Paradise." 2 The Avesta distin- 
guishes different classes of priests, but the distinction 
only rests on the various acts which they perform in 
the sacred rites. The first rank is taken by the 
Zaotar, who utters the prayers and invocations (the 
Hotar, i. e. the Repeater of the Veda) ; next to him 
apparently is the Qraoshavareza, " who speaks very 
wise and truthful things;" 8 he bears the club of Qraosha, 

1 "Vend." 13, 126129. 8 "Vend." 18, 117. 

8 "Visporod," 3, 13, 14. Above, p. 165. 


in order to keep the evil spirits at a distance from the 
sacred acts ; then comes the Atarevaksha, i. e. the 
priest who causes the fire to increase, and attends to 
the worship of it ; then the A9natar (the Washer), who 
has to cleanse the instruments of sacrifice to keep 
them from pollution ; the Frabaretar, i. e. the Carrier, 
etc. In the modern ritual of the Parsees all the duties 
of the sacred service have been transferred to the 
Zaotar and the Ra^pi, which latter discharges the 
functions of ministering priest. 

If we were only approximately correct in placing the 
date of Zarathrustra and the reform of the ancient 
faith at 1000 B.C., the formation of this priestly order, 
which took place on the basis of the new doctrine, 
may have come to an end about the year 800 B.C. 
We saw that from this date onwards the spread of 
the new doctrine must have begun in the west of Iran 
towards the Medes and Persians, since there existed 
among the Medes from 700 B.C. an hereditary priest- 
hood, charged with the worship of the gods according 
to the regulations of Zarathrustra, and in this century 
it was already sufficiently numerous to be placed as an 
equal division beside the tribes of the Medes. 

We have no better information about the priests of 
the West than we have on the political and social 
position of the priests of Eastern Iran. They are not 
called Athravas but Magush. This name is first found 
in the inscription which Darius caused to be cut on the 
rock-wall of Behistun ; afterwards it was consistently 
used by Western writers, from Herodotus to Agathias, 
for the priests of Iran. The Avesta has the words 
magha and maghavan, i. e. the powerful, the great, 1 but 

1 The Mobedh of Middle Persian is mayupat, i. e. lord of the Magians 
(p. 60). The derivation of the name Magus from the Turanian imga 
(apparently = honourable) can only be adopted by those who regard 


does not use it of the priests, which are always called 
Athravas. If the last title is taken from the fire- 
worship, the first allows us to see the importance of the 
priests. He who can use incantations to the gods and 
spirits can summon or remove them is the mighty 
one, the powerful If in this name we have evidence 
of the respect with which the laity of Western Iran 
looked up to the priests, the difference between the 
names in the East and West shows that there were 
priestly races among the Medes and Persians before 
the religion of Zarathrustra reached them. Had not 
such existed before the reform, and had they not 
possessed a definite name in the West had priestly 
families become known there for the first time at the 
rise of the reform they would never have had any 
other name than that of Athravas. Even without this 
positive proof we might assume that from all antiquity 
there had been priests among the Medes and Persians 
who understood how to invoke the gods of light in the 
old Arian faith Mithra and Verethraghna, Vayu and 
Tistrya and tend the fire which destroyed demons. 
When the new doctrine reached from the East to 
Ragha and then to Media (p. 96), the old races who 
passed over to the new faith united with the families 
the members of which were the prophets of the new 
doctrine. The teachers of the Medes in old times, 
which Pliny called successors of Zarathrustra, might 
have stood at the head of this transformation of the 

the Magians as descendants of the Turanians, or at any rate as con- 
taining a strong admixture of Turanians ; a view which rests on the 
theory that the second series in the inscriptions of the Achaemenids is 
the Median translation of the Persian inscriptions. With this view 
I cannot agree; all that we learn from the Greeks of the customs, 
manners, and names of the Modes bears the mark of an Arian origin, 
and is in harmony with what is attributed to the Persians. In the in- 
scription of the second class at Bohistun, Gauinata is not called imga 
but jnaguth. 


ancient priestly families, of the creation of the Median 
priesthood on the basis of the new religion (p. 92). 
However this may have been, the priestly families 
among the Medes were so numerous, their connection 
and union so close and firmly fixed, that they could be 
counted as a sixth tribe beside the other five Median 

Among the tribes of the Persians Herodotus men- 
tions no tribe of Magi. It would be a mistake to 
conclude from this that there were originally no 
priests among the Persians, and to put faith in Xeno- 
phon's statement that Cyrus was the first to give the 
Magians the care of the sacred fire, "because he 
preferred to go on board with the pious rather than 
the impious." 1 No one will maintain that the Per- 
sians in ancient times were without worship and 
religious rites, or that when they accepted the doctrine 
of Zarathrustra, which did not permit sacrifice without 
Magians, they used the services of none but alien 
priests. Such a proceeding would be absurd. The 
proper conclusion from the fact that Herodotus does 
not mention a tribe of Magians among the Persians 
is that the priestly families there were less numerous ; 
they had not broken away from the tribal connections 
to which they originally belonged, and formed them- 
selves into a separate community. Further, from the 
fact that the priestly families of the Persians in old 
times had not formed themselves into a separate com- 
munity, we may conclude and indeed the conclusion 
follows from the position of Media and the notice in 
the Avesta about Ragha, and the observation about 
the ancient teachers of the Medes, who are said to 
have been followers of Zarathrustra that the reform 
of the faith first came from Bactria to the Medes, 
1 " Cyri instit." 8, 1, 23. 

VOL. V. 


that it was adopted and more strongly represented 
among them, and so passed on to the Persians. We 
cannot doubt that there were Persians belonging to 
the order of Magians. If Plato and his pupils call 
Zoroaster the " teacher of the Magians," and at the 
same time " a Persian," they must assume that there 
were Magians among the Persians ; if, according to 
Plato's statement, the four teachers of the heirs to the 
Persian throne, of which one had to teach the Magism 
of Zoroaster, were selected out of "all the Persians;" 
if at the time of Xerxes there were Persians who 
wrote on the doctrine of Zoroaster, they must have 
been initiated in the wisdom and knowledge of the 
Magians, and have known their invocations and cus- 
toms; the contents of the holy scriptures and the 
scriptures themselves can hardly have been hidden 
from them. In order to prove that the Magians, t. e. 
the priests, belonged exclusively to the Medes, the 
fact has been brought forward that the Persians, after 
Darius had dethroned the Pseudo-Smerdis, celebrated 
each year the feast of the slaughter of the Magians, 
at which no Magian allowed himself to be seen, but 
all were obliged to remain at home. 1 The Mago- 

O O 

phonia was not the celebration of a victory over the 
Magi generally, but over the removal of a usurper, and 
the restoration of the dominion to the Achaemenids, 
which had been taken from them by one who hap- 
pened to be a Magian. Herodotus at any rate calls 
this Magian a Mede. 2 Darius contents himself with 
calling him the " Magian." Hence there is no ground 
to doubt that both before and after the reform, fami- 
lies of the Persians were charged with the worship 
of the gods ; the less so because Plato, as already 
i Herod. 3, 79. * Herod. 3, 73. 


remarked, represents the heirs to the throne in Persia 
as being instructed in the doctrine of Zoroaster, while 
Strabo and Pausanias speak expressly of "Persian 
Magi," and the chief Magian is enumerated among 
the tribes "which dwell in the districts of Persis." 1 

When the dominion of the Achaemenids had been 
established over Iran, the priestly families of all the 
West must have been united into one community. 
There is no doubt that this remained an order in 
which the priestly wisdom and knowledge were tradi- 
tional. Strabo, like Herodotus, calls the Magians a 
tribe; he adds that the members of it sought after a 
holy life. The tribe was large, he tells us in another 
place ; Magians could be found even in Cappadocia. 
Ammianus also informs us that the Magians handed 
down their doctrines to later times, each by his 
descendants. Growing up through centuries from a 
small number, the Magians became a nation, and 
being regarded as dedicated to the service of the 
gods, they had acquired respect through their religion. 
They inhabited open villages, lived according to a 
law of their own, and possessed fruitful fields in the 
district called Nissea. Agathias also calls the Magians 
a tribe. 2 But the separation of the priestly order in 
the West cannot have been more strict than that of 
the Athravas in the East. Marriage with the women 
of other orders was not forbidden, nor transition 
from other orders into that of the Medes. The 
Avesta speaks of the teacher and the pupil (p. 203) ; 
and it is expressly said though the statement comes 
from the beginning of the third century of our era 
that the Magians among the Persians, i. e. the Magians 

1 Strabo, p. 727 ; Pausanias, 5, 27, 3. 

9 Ammian. 23, 6, 3235 ; Agathias, 2, 26. 

O 2 


under the Arsacids, instructed even those who were 
not Persians in their doctrine, but only at the special 
command of the king. 1 

We find the Magians in close proximity to the rulers 
of the Medes and Persians ; they were not without 
importance and influence. In Herodotus they tell 
Aatyages that they had and would have great honours 
from him. 2 Xeuophon speaks of them as determining, 
at the time of Cyrus, which god is to be honoured on 
each day. 3 Cambyses charges Magians with the duty 
of watching the grave of Cyrus, and this office became 
hereditary in their families ; 4 he also entrusts a 
Magian with the care of the royal household, while he 
marches with the army into the remote parts of Egypt 
and Nubia. The inscriptions of Darius showed us 
how much in earnest he was with the doctrines and 
regulations of the religion how lively was his faith. 
On his march to Hellas, Xerxes was accompanied by 
Osthanes, a man skilled in the priestly dogmas, and by 
Magians ; they offer sacrifice, and charm the storms. 5 
The sacred fire which was carried before the kings 6 
was conducted by Magians, and so also were the sacred 
chariot, the sacred horses of Mithra and the sun-god, 
in the campaigns of the Achaemenids (p. 167). Of 
greater importance was it that the heirs to the throne 
in Persia were instructed, as Plato tells us, in the 
Magism of Zoroaster, 7 which could only be done by 
.Magians. Nicolaus of Damascus relates that the 
Persian princes were instructed by the Magians in 
truthfulness, justice, and the laws of their country; 8 
and, according to Plutarch, Magians were the educators 

1 Philostratus in Eapp, " Z. D. M. G." 20, 71. 

8 Horod. 1, 120. 8 " Cyri instit." 7, 5, 20 ; 8, 1, 8. 

4 Arrian, " Anab." 6, 29. 6 Herod. 7, 191. 

Curtiua, 3, 7 ; Ammian. 23, 6, 34. 7 " Alcibiad. I." p. 122. 

8 Nic. Dam. fragin. 67, od. Mullcr. 


of the Persian princes ; Magians also under the Achne- 
menids performed the consecration at the accession of 
a new king. 1 We are also told that this king of the 
Medes and that of the Persians, took the advice of the 
Magians on important occasions. Under the Arsacids 
they formed, along with the members of the race of 
the kings, the supreme council of the kingdom ; in 
the time when this dynasty was at its height they 
ruled, as Pliny told us, " over the king of kings ; " 
and we have seen (p. 60) that their influence under 
the Sassanids, at court, in the administration of law, 
and in politics, was even more powerful. 

Herodotus maintains that the Magians also occu- 
pied themselves with soothsaying and prophecy ; like 
Ctesias, he ascribes to the Medes the interpretation of 
certain dreams and other miraculous acts. Of such 
interpretations aqd prophesying on the part of the 
priests the Avesta knows nothing, and those Greeks 
who were better informed, warmly contested the as- 
sertion that the Magians were occupied with such 
things. Plato tells us : " The Magism of Zoroaster is 
the worship of the gods;" and Aristotle assures us that 
the Magians knew nothing of soothsaying. 2 What 
Herodotus tells us, on the other side, he certainly did 
not invent, but repeats after his informants. The 
Medo-Persian Epos, which, though indirectly, forms 
the basis of Herodotus' account of the rise of Cyrus 
and the death of Cambyses, allowed a wide field, even 
in the account of the fall of the Assyrian empire 
(III. 264), to the astrological and prophetic wisdom of 
the Chaldseans. From this we may conclude that 
prophecies of the Chaldseans were not left out of 
sight at the overthrow of Astyages. In Nicolaus of 
Damascus it is a Chaldsean of Babylon who expounds 

1 Plut. " Artaxerxes," c. 3. 2 Diog. Laort. prooem. 6. 


her dream to the mother of Cyrus, 1 and possibly 
the kings of the Medea followed the example of the 
Assyrian and Babylonian courts in having astro- 
logers and interpreters of dreams from Babylon about 

Whatever was the influence employed by the Magians 
at the court of the Achsemenids, the Arsacids and 
Sassanids, their influence was of a moral nature ; it 
was only through the effect of religion on the heart 
and conscience of the king, that they could work ; 
their position did not rest on any hierarchical insti- 
tutions. In Iran the priesthood had no real means 
of power which permitted it to come forward in oppo- 
sition to the power of the State. The priest was a 
subject of the king like any one else. It was within 
the king's power to proceed at his pleasure with the 
severest corporal punishment against the Magi, and 
it is abundantly clear that the kings did not shrink 
from inflicting such punishments, even if we do not 
regard as established facts the stories that Astyages 
impaled the Magians who had given him a false report, 
and that Darius caused forty Magians to be executed 
at once. 2 

Diogenes Laertius relates that the Magians lived on 
lentils, bread and cheese, which agrees with the Avesta 
to the extent that the priests are there commanded to 
be content with a little food. 3 What Herodotus tells 
us of the duties and occupation of the Magians agrees 
entirely with the rules given in the Avesta for the 

1 Fragm. 66, ed. Miiller ; cf. infra Bk 8, c. 4. 

1 Herod. 1, 128 ; Ctes. " Pers." 15. The excerpt says 40 Chaldseans, 
but obviously Magi are here meant. 

3 Prooem. 7. Above, p. 190. The further statements of Diogenes 
about the white robes of the Magians, their avoidance of all ornament 
and gold, of their lying on the ground, and staff of reed, deserve little 
notice, inasmuch as the source whence they are derived is unknown. 


Athravas. No one could sacrifice without a Magian; 
the sacrifices were offered on high places (in this Xeno- 
phon agrees 1 ) or in "pure places;" the most delicate 
grass was spread we remember the importance of the 
Kuya-grass in the Veda and the Brahmanas on this 
grass the flesh of the sacrifice was laid ; the Magians 
sang the theogony, i. e. long sacrificial prayers, and the 
sacred rite is fulfilled. Herodotus also asserts that 
the Magians took great pride in killing serpents, ants, 
and other winged and creeping things with their own 
hands ; that human life was greatly respected by them ; 
that the dog was held in high honour (p. 86) ; and 
the corpses of the Magians were exposed to dogs or 
birds of prey. This he declares that he knows to be 
the truth ; Xenophon represents the Magians as begin- 
ning their songs of praise with the break of day, and 
as offering their sacrifices at certain places, which were 
selected for the gods. Curtius relates that they sang 
native songs. 2 Strabo told us above that the Magians 
sought after a holy life ; he observes also that whatever 
was the god to which they sacrificed they first prayed 
to fire. At every sacrifice the Magians conducted the 
sacred rite ; the victims were not slain with the knife 
but struck down with a club. No part of the flesh 
of the victim was set apart for the deity, for they 
declared that the god required only the soul of the 
animal ; yet according to some they placed a small 
portion of the fat in the fire: " In Cappadocia there 
were enclosed places," Strabo continues, " in the midst 
of which was an altar, heaped up with ashes. On this 
the Magians kept up the unquenchable fire. Each 
day they went and sang for an hour before the fire, 
holding in their hands a bundle of twigs. On their 

1 " Cyri instit." 8, 7, 3. 

3 " Cyri instit." 8, 7, 3 ; 7, 5, 20 ; 8, 1, 8 ; Curtius, 3, 3, 8. 


heads they wore tiaras of felt, which fell down on 
both sides so far that the side- pieces covered the lips." 1 
Pausanias, who observed the worship of the Magians 
in the cities of Lydia, says : " At both places there 
was a shrine with a cell, and in the cell is an altar ; 
on this are ashes the colour of which is not the 
ordinary colour of ashes. When the Magian comes 
into the cell, he lays the dry wood on the altar, puts 
the tiara on his head, and sings the invocation to some 
god or another, in a barbarian manner, quite unin- 
telligible to the Hellenes; but he sings from a book. 
Then the pieces of wood, without being kindled, ought 
to become lighted, and a flame from them should flash 
all round the cell." 5 

1 Strabo, p. 733. 8 Pausan. o, 27, 5, 6. 



THE rules concerning purity and purification, the 
expiations and penances necessary to avert the Daevas, 
which we possess in the Vendidad of the A vesta, are 
only the remnant of a far more comprehensive law. 
From the list of books and chapters traditional among 
the Parsees, we can see that it was intended to include 
not only all the invocations and prayers which the 
worship required, the rules of sacrifice, and the entire 
ritual, together with the Calendar of the year of the 
Church, but also the arrangement of the process of 
law, the civil and criminal code, and, moreover, rules 
for agriculture and medicine. If to this we add the 
statements and quotations of the Greeks (p. 53), we 
may assume that the scriptures of Eastern Iran com- 
prised the whole sum of the knowledge of the priests. 
In the Avesta the Athravas had sketched the ideal 
picture of the correct conduct pleasing to Auramazda 
in every department of life. How far the princes of 
Bactria and the viceroys of Cyaxares and the Achse- 
menids, or even these princes themselves, and the 
judges, wished or allowed themselves to be bound in 
their decisions by these regulations of the priests, may 
be left out of the question. The priests here, like the 
Brahmans in India, could only influence the action of 


the State and those charged with it, so far as the 
reverence for the principles of religion and the force of 
their own authority extended. 

The existing part of the law has obviously arisen 
out of the questions and considerations sketched 
above, which in consequence of the reform must have 
forced themselves into the circles of the priests. The 
reform also required above all things purity from men, 
but no supernatural purity, such as the Brahmans 
demanded. The body is not in the A vesta, as it was 
to the Brahmans and after them to the Buddhists, the 
impure prison of the soul which must be abandoned ; 
on the contrary the Avesta rejoices in its health and 
vigour. It requires that the body should be kept 
pure from filth, from contamination by the impure, 
which gives the Daevas power over mankind, i. e. it 
demands the exclusion of the harmful side of nature ; 
it desires that the soul should be pure from pollution, 
freed from untruthfulness, lying, and deceit, which are 
contradictory to the nature of the clear bright gods, 
and Auramazda, and make men companions of the 
Daevas, and sharers in their nature. In other words, 
it demands the invigoration of the light and wholesome 
side of man. The kingdom of the good spirits is 
truth, increase, and life ; the kingdom of the evil is 
deception and falsehood, lying, destruction, and death. 
The Avesta praises Auramazda as purity itself; and 
next to him Asha vahista, i. e. the best purity ; the 
gods are chiefly extolled as "the pure," and Zara- 
thrustra as the master and teacher of purity. The 
Avesta repeatedly declares " that purity after birth is 
the best thing for men." Hence it is the foremost of 
all duties to keep the soul and body pure. The 
worshipper of Auramazda must preserve his purity by 
good thoughts, words, and works ; truth is required 


in thinking, speaking, and acting ; uprightness and 
honesty in all the relations of life ; the sacredness of 
promises and pledges, and solemn assurances, at which 
Mithra is summoned to bear witness It is an old 
function of the god which appears here. He is the 
guardian of the word, and the compact. " Mithra is 
twenty-fold between friends and kinsmen, thirty-fold 
between tradespeople, forty-fold between companions 
who live together, fifty-fold between man and wife, 
sixty-fold between associates in sacrifice, seventy-fold 
between scholar and teacher, eighty-fold between step- 
son and step-parents, ninety-fold between brothers, a 
hundred-fold between son and father." " Miserable are 
the houses, without descendants the dwellings, in- 
habited by those who deceive Mithra. Miserably does 
the cloven-footed cow go on the wrong path, which is 
oppressed by the burden of Mithra-deceiving men." 1 
In accordance with this view deception is in the eyes 
of the law the worst offence ; worse than robbery or 
theft. Evil-speaking and calumny also are, according 
to the Vendidad, " lies and sins " against Mithra. The 
gravest offence of this kind is the calumny by which 
" a pure man " is disparaged " with a man of another 
religion," for this sin is committed with full knowledge, 
and by a man's own intelligence ; and the worst of all 
lies is teaching a false law. " One who teaches such a 
law," says the Vendidad, "does no better than if he 
killed a thousand horses, slew the men in a village 


inhabited by worshippers of Auramazda, or carried off 
the cows on the wrong way." 2 

It is not the least proof of the currency of the 
doctrines of the Avesta in the West of Iran that their 
ethical side, which gathers round the command of 
truthfulness, was there most distinctly recognised. 

1 " Mihr Yasht," 38, 116, 117. 2 " Vend." 1, 18, 20 ; 18, 2232. 


King Darius has already told us that " the lie " had 
brought his kingdom into rebellion ; the leaders of the 
rebellious lands, who gave themselves out to be de- 
scendants of the ancient royal families, he calls " liars 
against the kingdom." From their youth up, Hero- 
dotus tells us, the children of the Persians were 
instructed in truthfulness. He adds : Among the 
Persians it was forbidden to speak of that which it 
was forbidden to do ; the A vesta requires truth " in 
thought, speech, and action." Lying and borrowing, 
Herodotus says, passed with the Persians for the most 
disgraceful acts, for they were of opinion that any 
one who contracted debts was generally compelled to 
tell lies. The Avesta says : " He who does not restore 
that which has been borrowed, seeks day and night to 
deceive the creditor." Plato states that the heirs to 
the Persian throne had, besides three others, a teacher 
whose special business it was to instruct them in truth- 
Xenophon assures us that pledges and oaths were 
religiously kept among the Persians ; and Diodorus, 
that the pledge of hands was the strongest security 
among them. 1 Practice in Persia was, it is true, not 
equal to these injunctions, however sharply expressed ; 
on the contrary, we often find the two in the most 
glaring contradiction. 

Not falsehood and lies only, but also laziness and 
sloth pollute the soul of man. The pious man must 
rise early. Qraosha awakes the bird Parodarsh, we 
are told in the book of the law. At the return of the 
divine Ushahina, i. e. of the morning (p. 108), this 
bird speaks to those who are in their beds : " Friend, 
up, arise. Praise purity, and the Daevas will fly away. 
Long sleep, O man, is not good for thee. The Bush- 

1 Herod. 1, 136; Plato, "Alcib. L" p. 122; Xen. "Cyri instit." 8, 
8, 2 ; Diod. 16, 43. 


yangta runs up to thee, who lays again in sleep the 
whole corporeal world. Turn yourselves not away 
from the. three best things : good thinking, speaking, 
and acting. He who rises first will come into Para- 
dise ; he who first brings pure, dry, old, well-hewn 
wood to the fire of Auramazda, him will the fire bless 
(p. 122)." l The pious man should be industrious 
and work ; the best work is that which increases 
nourishment and fruit for men and animals, which 
furthers the increase and life of the world, and thus 
diminishes the kingdom of the evil, the power of the 
dark spirits. For this reason running water and 
growing fruits should be spread over the earth ; " the 
field should be tilled, and trees planted which produce 
food." " When there are shoots," the law-book says, 
" the Daevas are in alarm ; when there are stalks, the 
Daevas weep ; when there are ears, the Daevas hiss ; 
when there are grains, the Daevas fly." 2 "In the 
house where there are most ears, the Daevas are 
smitten most heavily." "The earth is not glad 
which lies untilled. The greatest pleasure is given to 
the earth where a pure man builds his house, provided 
with fire and cattle, and good flocks, with wife and 
child, where most corn, fodder, and grain is produced 
by husbandry, where the dry land is most watered, 
where fruit-bearing trees are planted, where cattle and 
beasts of draught leave the most urine." 3 " He who 
plants fruits and trees, who gives water to the earth 
where it is needed, and takes it away where too 
abundant, he worships the earth." When a man tills 
the earth she bestows life upon him ; " as a friend to a 
beloved friend, she gives him descendants and wealth." 
To him who tills her, the earth says : " O man, who 

1 " Vend." 18, 3542 ; 53-57. 2 " Vend." 3, 105 ff. 

3 Loc. cit. 3, 120. 


tillest me with the left arm and the right, with the 
right arm and the left, in love will I bear thee all 
kinds of fruit." But to him who tills her not the 
earth says : " Thou wilt go to the doors of others and 
there stand, in order to beg for food ; in idleness thou 
wilt ask for it and get but little." He who sows corn, 
sows purity ; the law of Auramazda increases with the 
fruits of the field ; they extend the law of Auramazda 
by 100, 1000, and 10,000 meritorious works. 

These regulations of the Avesta were fully accepted 
in the West. The great reverence paid to splendid 
trees by the Achaemenids is shown by Herodotus' 
story of Xerxes, that he furnished a beautiful plane 
tree, which he saw in Lydia, with golden ornaments, 
and appointed a perpetual guardian for it. 1 Ameretat, 
as already observed, was the special protecting spirit 
of trees (p. 164). Xenophon tells us that the Persian 
kings gave special attention to agriculture; on their 
journeys they inquired into the tillage of the land, 
and demanded similar attention from their satraps. 
Round their palaces and wherever they came they 
caused the most beautiful gardens to be laid out, 
planted with trees and all the most excellent shrubs in 
the world. 2 The satraps also had gardens of this kind 
(pairidaeza) round their residences, and the younger 
Cyrus assures Lysander, " in the name of Mithra," 
that he never took food before he had induced perspir- 
ation by work in the garden or exercise in arms. 3 
The satraps, says Xenophon, whose provinces were 
found deficient in population and poorly cultivated, 
were punished and removed from their office, while 
those whose provinces were in good order, were re- 
warded by presents. When the king of the Persians 

1 Herod. 7, 31. 2 " CEconom." 4, 13 ft. 

3 Ibid. 4, 2024. 


conferred distinctions, those were summoned first who 
had distinguished themselves in war, and next came 
those whose districts were best cultivated. 1 Respect 
and reverence for trees was so deeply rooted in Iran, 
that even Islam did not extirpate the feeling. To this 
day in Shiraz old trees are presented with dedicatory 
offerings, and hung with amulets; and the pious 
prefer to pray under tall trees rather than in the 
neighbouring mosques ; while in the barren regions of 
Iran even groups of bushes receive offerings. 2 

Besides the care of trees, plants, and the soil, the 
labour of mankind must be directed to the care of the 
flocks, to the increase of the animals of the good god, 
and the destruction of the Khraftras, or animals 
belonging to the evil spirit (p. 171). Cows are not 
held in such veneration in Iran as beyond the Indus, 
yet even here the " cow is not to be driven on the 
wrong way," and gomez (the urine of oxen) is the 
most effectual means of purification ; in the theory 
of the priests Auramazda began the creation of living 
things with the bull. We have already mentioned 
the rank taken among the animals of Auramazda by 
the cock and dog. In the Vendidad Auramazda 
says : " I have created the dog with clothes and shoes 
of his own, with keen scent and sharp teeth, attached 
to men, savage against the enemy, for the protection 
of the flocks. No thief or wolf comes to the village 
or the fold and carries away anything unobserved, if 
the dog is healthy, in good voice, and among the 
flocks. The houses would not stand firm upon the 
earth if there were not dogs in the villages and flocks. 
The dog is patient, contented, and satisfied with little 
food, like a priest ; he goes forward, and is before and 

1 Ibid. 4, 812 ; " Cyri instit." 8, 6, 16. 

* Darmosteter, " Haurvatat et Aniorotat," p. 64 ff. 


behind the house, like a warrior ; he sleeps less than 
the husbandmen, is talkative like a child, and friendly 
as a mistress." 1 The dogs are to receive good food, 
" for of all the creatures of Auramazda old age comes 
upon them the most quickly ; " especially must the 
watch-dog be provided with milk, fat, and flesh, 
" the proper food " for a dog ; and a dog must never 
be among those who are eating without receiving 
something to eat. Any one who gives unbroken 
bones or hot food to a sheep-dog or house-dog, and 
the bones injure him, and the hot food burns his 
mouth and tongue, so that he dies is worthy of 
death. 2 Dogs with young are treated with the same 
care as pregnant women. It is a sin to chase or beat 
a dog which has brought forth ; if she is injured or 
dies in running the sinner is worthy of death ; and 
any one who beats a pregnant dog is to receive twice 
seven hundred stripes. It is the duty of every 
man to bring up for six months the dogs born on 
his ground, until they are able to run round in a 
circuit of twice seven houses. 3 Sick dogs are treated 
with the same remedies as rich men ; and to the 
question of Zarathrustra " If the dog will not take 
the remedies ? " Auramazda answers that in this case 
" the dog can be tied, and its mouth opened with a 
flat piece of wood." 4 Wounds inflicted on dogs are to 
be punished with stripes to the number of twice eight 
hundred; 5 and besides this, compensation is to be given 
for the damage which thieves or wolves do to the 
village so long as the dog is prevented by his injuries 
from keeping watch. The book of the law every- 
where threatens all those men who beat dogs that 

1 "Vend." 13, 125162. * "Vend." 15, 2, 3, 4. 

8 "Vend." 15, 5, 20, 21, according to Goldner's translation. [Cf. 

"Vend." 13, 97105. 6 "Vend." 13, 2647. 


their souls will go from this world full of terror, and 
sick. To kill a water-dog is the greatest crime ; x 
and is menaced with the worst penalties and expia- 
tions known to the Vendidad. As a general rule 
punishments do not go beyond 2000 stripes, or the 
necessity of killing 2000 noxious animals ; but the 
slayer of the water-dog is to receive 10,000 stripes. 
Besides this, if he would save his soul, he must give 
10,000 parcels of hard wood, well hewn and dried, 
for the fire of Auramazda, and also 10,000 parcels of 
soft, fragrant wood ; he must kill 10,000 snakes, and 
an equal number of tortoises, lizards, and water-lizards, 
ants, flies, and rats. He must fill up 10,000 impure 
holes in the earth ; give to the priests all the utensils 
required for the holy rites ; to a warrior a complete 
set of armour ; to a husbandman he must give all that 
is needed for agriculture : a house, provided with 
a beautiful mat, and arable land for tillage. In 
addition, he must give, as an expiation for his soul, 
fourteen head of small cattle to the " pure men," and 
bring up fourteen young dogs, and build fourteen 
bridges over running water. He must cleanse eighteen 
dogs from fleas, and make eighteen bones into edible 
food ; and satisfy eighteen " pure men " with wine 
and flesh. If he does not perform these expiations he 
will go into the dwelling of the Druj, and "the heat 
which is injurious to the pasture will not depart from 
his dwelling until he has offered sacrifice for three 
days and nights for the pure soul of the water-dog, 
on the burning fire, with bound rods and uplifted 
Haoma." 2 

In order to extirpate the animals of Angromainyu, 

1 It is not certain whether the udra of the Vendidad is the water- 
dog (spaniel ?) or the otter. 

2 "Vend." 13, 169174; 14,475. 

VOL. V. P 


the priest is to be provided with a stick, the Khrafctra- 
killer. Herodotus has already told us, that the Magians 
held it a duty to kill serpents, ants, and other creep- 
ing and winged insects. For the expiation of sins 
the Avesta universally requires the killing of serpents, 
lizards, and ants ; rats and mice, which do harm to 
the crops ; flies, midges, fleas, lice, and other vermin. 
Plutarch tells us that the Persians count him a happy 
man who slays most water-mice ; Agathias observes 
that in honour of the chief festival in Persia every 
one killed as many snakes, and beasts of prey, and 
animals living in the desert, as possible, and then 
brought them to the Magians as a proof of his piety. 
In this way they believed that they did what was 
pleasing to the good god, while they injured and 
distressed Arimanes. 1 

According to the Avesta, the soul of man is kept 
pure by truthfulness, industry, and diligence, by good 
thoughts, good words and acts, which advance the 
kingdom of life ; the body is to be kept free from dirt 
and the house from filth and dead creatures ; from all 
that belongs to the evil spirits and is in their power. 
The soul of man is created pure ; but from the first 
the body has certain impure parts, and the defilement 
which Angromainyu brought into the bodies of men. 
This defilement consists in the spittle, the excrements, 
dead skin, sores, etc ; in everything that has an un- 
pleasant smell, or is removed from the living body, 
like the hair and nails. These when cut are dead, 
and therefore belong to the kingdom of darkness ; 
hence in Iran as in India they are impure things. 
" Wherever cut hair and nails lie," says the book of 
the law, " there the Daevas gather to these unholy 
places ; there the impure animals come, which men call 

1 Agath. 2, 24. 


lice. Therefore carry away so saith Auramazda cut 
hair and nails, ten paces from the pure men, twenty 
from the fire, thirty from the water, fifty from the 
sacred bundle of rods. Dig a hole below the house in 
the earth, pronounce the prayer Ahunavairya thrice, 
six times, nine times, and then say : To thee, bird, 
Asho-zusta, I show these nails. These nails I dedicate 
to thee ; may they be thy lances, thy swords, thy bow, 
thy swift-flying arrows, thy sling-stones against the 
Mazanian Daevas. If these nails are not announced to 
the bird Asho-zusta, they are weapons for, not against, 
the Daevas." l Spittle is among the worst impurities. 
The priests could only approach the fire with veiled 
mouth, and even now the Parsees invariably cover the 
mouth in praying. They eat in silence, and two 
never use the same spoon, because the food would 
then be polluted by spittle. The removal of the ex- 
crements requires as much care in the Avesta as it did 
in the Brah manic law, and the Vendidad gives minute 
regulations in regard to these matters. 2 A man is 
rendered impure by excess and debauchery ; a woman 
by her courses, "by marks and blood," and by the 
birth of a child. She must be carried to an elevated 
place in the dwelling, which is strewn with dry sand, 
fifteen paces from the fire, from water, and the sacred 
bundle of rods, " at a distance also from the trees," and 
so placed that she cannot see the fire on the hearth. 
No one may touch her. Only a definite amount 
of certain kinds of food can be given to her, and that 
in metal jars, because these contract the least amount 
of impurity, and are most easily cleansed ; the person 
who brings the food must remain three paces distent 

1 " Vend." Farg. 17. 

2 " Wer den Urin mit vorgestrecktem. Fusse lasst macht die Drudsch 
schwanger," so dass sie neue Unholdo gebiiren. 

P 2 


from her bed. After childbirth a woman is unclean 
for three days ; then she must wash her body with 
water and gomez. If she has had a miscarriage her 
body is also polluted by the dead child : she must be 
placed thirty paces away from the fire and the sacred 
objects of the house, and must pass a longer period on 
her dust-bed at the present time forty-one days are 
required. The first thing she is allowed to taste is 
ashes mixed with gomez three, six, and then nine 
drops. The nine apertures of her body that number 
is common to the Indians and Iranians must be 
washed with ashes and gomez. She may not drink 
any water out of her impure hand ; if she does so, she 
must receive two hundred blows with the rod, and 
two hundred with the whip. 1 Fire and water, springs, 
streams and rivers, the best gifts of the good gods, 
must, like the human body, be carefully preserved 
from all filth and defilement. The accounts of Western 
writers prove that the Persians and Medes observed 
the rules of purification given in the Book of the Law ; 
it was not the custom among the Persians to spit in 
the presence of another, still less to sneeze, etc. They 
avoided the defilement of a river, or of the shadow of 
a man ; and it was forbidden to uncover in the sight 
of the sun or moon. 2 

"The sun, the moon, the stars shine unwillingly," 
we are told in the Vendidad, " on the polluted man." 8 
" The impure takes away prosperity and increase ; he 
brings sickness and death ; after death he will not go 
into heaven." 4 But whatever pollution a man has 
contracted, and whatever sin he has committed, the 
good law quenches all impurity and sin, if the puriti- 

1 "Vend." 5, 4555, 136157; 7, 158182. 
Herod. 1, 133; Xen. Cyri instit" 1, 2, 16 ; 8, 9, 11 ; Plin. "H. 
N." 28, 19. 
8 "Vend." 9, 101. * "Vend." 9, 187. 


cations, expiations, and penalties which it prescribes are 
performed and paid; for the good law of Auramazda 
surpasses all others in greatness, goodness, and salva- 
tion, as far as the heaven rises above the earth, and 
as the sea of Vourukasha includes all other waters." 1 
" The good law of Auramazda takes from the man who 
praises it and commits no evil actions afterwards, his 
deception ; it takes away the murder of the pure man, 
and the burial of the dead ; it takea away inexpiable 
actions, and accumulated guilt ; it takes away all evil 
words, thoughts, and actions, even as the strong swift 
wind purifies heaven from the right side." 2 

Slight pollution is removed by washing with pure 
water accompanied by certain prayers and impre- 
cations on the Daevas, such as : "I contend with thee, 
evil Angromainyu ; away from this dwelling, away 
from the fire, the water, from this place, from all the 
blessings which Auramazda has created. I contend 
against pollution, direct and indirect; against the 
unclean spirits ; I contend against the Daeva Andra, 
Qaurva, Zairicha (p. 169) ; against the Pairika, who 
goes to the water, the earth, cattle, and trees," etc. 3 
More serious impurities require ablutions with gomez, 
which in certain cases have to be repeated thirty 
times, with various prayers. 4 The most efficacious 
purification, which removes even the worst taint, is 
that of the nine nights. This can only be performed 
by a priest, who knows the law accurately, can repeat 
the sacred word by heart, and speaks the truth. A 
special place must be constructed for it ; thirty paces 
(which are equal to ninety times the length of the 
foot) from the fire, the water, and the sacred bundle 
of rods. In the middle of this space nine pits are 

i "Vend." 5, 2325. * "Vend." 3, 140147 ; 8, 87. 

- 3 " Vend." 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 2628. * " Vend." 8, 275, 276. 


dug in the earth, and round them twelve furrows are 
drawn with a metal instrument. The purifier sprinkles 
the person who requires cleansing (who is entirely 
naked) with gomez, from a leaden vessel, with many 
prayers. He is then rubbed fifteen times with earth ; 
he must then wash himself at each of the nine pits 
once, twice, thrice with water, after which he is fumi- 
gated with fragrant wood. Then follow washings with 
water and gomez in the third, sixth, and ninth night. 
" After this," says the book, " the purified person shall 
bring water of purification to the fire, hard wood, and 
perfumes ; he is to utter praises to Auramazda, to the 
Amesha Qpentas, and to the rest of the pure ones 
so will the man be purified." The purifier must be 
rewarded for this purification ; according to the mea- 
sure of the man's property the payment rises from 
small cattle and cows to camels ; " in order that the 
purifier may go away contented and without hatred." 
Instead of cattle, goods of another description can be 
given. But if the purifier goes away discontented, 
the wicked spirit of impurity comes again into the 
purified persons, and they are impure for evermore." 1 
In the view of the A vesta impurity consists essen- 
tially in that which is opposed to life ; hence there is 
no worse form of uncleanness than that caused by the 
corpse. The body, as soon as the soul has left it, 
belongs to Angromainyu. The fiend of death, the 
Druj Nacu, obtains possession of it, and from it she 
springs on all who touch it, or come near it. If a 
man dies, or a dog and in this matter dogs are put 
quite on a level with men and other men and women 
are in the same house two, five, fifty, or a hundred 
the Druj Nacu comes immediately from the north 
in the form of a fly, and settles on all the inhabitants 
1 "Vend." 9, 119158 ; 19, 6980. 


of the house and makes them impure with infection, 
pollution, and uncleanness. 1 In the first instance she 
is to be met by incantations the Gathas, Bisamruta, 
Thrisamruta, Chathrasamruta, must be repeated ; then 
the fiend falls to pieces like grass that has been 
dead a year. 2 After this the hearth-fire must be 
removed from the house of the dead, and the sacred 
utensils the mortar, the cup, the sacred bundle of 
rods, and the Haoma. In winter the fire can be 
kindled again upon the hearth after nine nights ; in 
summer, when the need for warmth and cooked food 
is less pressing, after a month ; any one who does not 
observe these periods is to be punished with twice two 
hundred stripes. 3 After purification the kinsmen are 
to utter prayers for the departed, and the number of 
these is fixed, in the Vendidad, in the same fanciful 
manner which is so often met with in the book of 
Manu. The number decreases according to the degree 
of relationship ; for the nearest kinsmen thirty prayers 
are spoken ; for the most remote, five ; if the dead 
man has led an impure life the number of prayers is 
doubled in order to give efficacy to the petition. 4 

The preservation and increase of life is the founda- 
tion of the teaching of the Avesta. The good life of 
nature is promoted by planting and agriculture, by 
tending the useful and destroying the pernicious 
animals ; and by posterity provision is to be made for 
the life of men. From this point of view the Vendidad 
lays especial weight on marriage. " I declare," Aura- 
mazda says, " that the married is before the unmar- 
ried, and he that has a house before him that has 
none, and the father of children before the childless." 5 

1 " Vend." 5, 83108 ; 7, 4 if. " Vend." 9, 168171 ; Farg. 10. 
8 "Vend." 5, 124135. "Vend." 12, 159. 

6 " Vend." 4, 130133. 


We can only ascertain very incompletely from the 
remaining fragments of the Avesta the rules which 
it prescribed for family life. We see that bringing 
about a marriage was regarded as a meritorious work, 
and marriage between close relations was considered 
happy. Yet maidens are not to be given in marriage 
before their fifteenth year. 1 To those who have long 
remained unmarried the god Haoma, the special pro- 
tector of life, sends truthful, active husbands, gifted 
with good understanding (p. 125). We never hear of 
any difference of the 'orders in contracting marriage ; 
nor is there the least hint that the priest can only 
marry a wife of priestly blood, or the husbandman 
a wife of his own class. On the other hand, the strict- 
est directions are given that the worshippers of 
Auramazda are only to marry among themselves ; 
marriage with those of an alien religion is severely 
reprobated. "A man who mingles the seed of the 
faithful and the unbelievers, the seed of the worship- 
pers of the Daevas with the worshippers of Mazda, 
keeps back a third part of the flowing water, a third 
part of the increase of the blooming plants, and their 
golden fruits ; he annihilates a third part of the 
clothing of Qpenta Armaiti (the Earth) ; he robs the 
just men of a third part of their power, their merits, 
their purity. They who do this are more destructive 
than forked serpents, than howling wolves, than the 
she-wolf which rushes on the flocks, than the thou- 
sand-fold brood of the lizard, which pollutes the 
water."* The Vendidad gives the house-father a 
similar power over his wife and children to that given 
in Manu's law so far as we can conclude from 
certain indications. He is to be spoken of with the 

1 "Vend." 14,6466. 

* "Vend." 18, 123133, after Harlez' translation. [Cf. Dannesteter.] 


same reverence as the house-father on the Ganges ; 
the wife is to be honoured, but is to "be watched 
perpetually, like the fire of Auramazda." 1 With 
regard to the education of children, we can only 
gather from the Vendidad they were to be tended for 
seven years ; " protect dogs for six months, children 
for seven years ;" 2 and boys are to be invested in their 
fifteenth year with the sacred girdle. 3 We remember 
the sacred girdle which the three upper castes wore 
and still wear beyond the Ganges; the investiture 
with this, and adoption into the family and caste 
"the second birth" takes place, according to Manu's 
law, among the Brahman boys in the eighth year, 
among the Kshatryas, in the eleventh, and the Vaiyas 
in the twelfth. The habit of wearing the girdle, 
which prevails on both sides of the Indus, proves that 
this custom was in use before the two branches of the 
Arians separated. Originally the girdle was intended 
to be a protection or amulet against the evil spirits. 4 
In the girdle which the priests prepare with traditional 
ceremonies, and put on boys in their seventh or tenth 
year, the modern Parsees see the bond which encloses 
and unites the worshippers of Auramazda. 

If I attempt to supplement the scanty hints of the 
Avesta on family life from the accounts preserved to us 
on this subject by Western writers, it must be remem- 
bered that the more ancient of these statements hold 
good only of the West of Iran. But as we have 
hitherto found the worship and manners of the Persians 
and Medes, as described by the Greeks, agreeing with 
the rules of the Avesta, we may suppose that in this 
province also East and West were in agreement. 
Herodotus states that the Persians married many 

1 " Vend." 15, 126. "Vend." 15, 125. 

8 " Vend." 18, 115. * " Vend." 18, 23. 


wives, and had concubines in addition. They con- 
sidered it honourable and right to have as many 
children as possible ; next to bravery in war it was the 
greatest merit to have many children, and the king 
sent presents every year to the man who had most. 1 
Of all days the Persians celebrated most the day 
on which they were born. A more abundant meal 
was served on this day : among the wealthy an ox, 
a horse, or a camel was roasted whole ; and smaller 
animals among those who were poorer. Plato adds : 
" When the first son, the heir of the kingdom, was 
born to the king of Persia, all the subjects of the king 
celebrated the day, and on the birthday of the king 
there were festivals and sacrifices throughout all 
Asia." 8 Herodotus observes, that the respect of chil- 
dren for their parents was great. The Persians 
regarded the murder of parents by a son as impos- 
sible ; if such a thing happened they believed that the 
child was supposititious. 3 Aristotle tells us that the 
power of the father over the sons among the Persians 
was tyrannical, i. e. unlimited ; he treated them as 
slaves. 4 That the mother was also treated with 
respect follows from the statement that the son 
might not remain seated when the mother entered, 
and could only resume his seat at her permission. 
At the court of the Achsemenids the mother of the 
king had the first place, the king the second. 5 That 
the queen-mother often exercised great influence is 
shown by the history of this ruling family. Of the 
careful education of the heir to the throne, the other 
princes, and the sons of the wealthy Persians, both 
in the exercise and strengthening of their bodies and 

Herod. 1, 135, 138. a Plato, "Aloib. I."; p. 121. 

Herod. 1, 137. 4 ".Ethic. Nicom." 8, 10, od. ZelL 

Curt. 5, 9 ; Plut " Artax." c. 5. . 


iii moral training, the Western writers had much 
to tell. 

What the Greeks narrate respecting the celebration 
of the birthday among the Persians, the distinction of 
the satraps whose provinces were best cultivated and 
populated, and the rewards given to those who had 
most children, agrees entirely with the delight in life 
which runs through the Avesta, and the exhortations 
to increase life everywhere present in that book. 
The Avesta always speaks of one wife only. The 
polygamy noticed by the Greeks was limited to the 
rich (the number of wives among the Persians, says 
Ammian, was regulated by property 1 ) ; in consequence 
of the religious feeling just noticed, it prevailed, no 
doubt, far more extensively among the Arians of Iran 
than among the Indians. Yet the harems of the 
Indian princes were large. However numerous the 
harems of the Achsemenids, only one wife was the 
lawful wife ; and she alone, as in India, bore the name 
of queen : only her sons could be considered heirs to 
the throne. The other wives greeted the queen on 
their knees : the queen must belong to the race of the 
Achsemenids, or at any rate to one of the six tribal 
princes. 2 The same was the case among the rest of 
the Persians who had several wives ; one only was the 
house-wife. The Avesta told us above that the wife 
must be watched. According to Plutarch the Persians 
were more strict in this matter than the rest of the 
barbarians ; they kept not only the wife but the con- 
cubines shut up, and they left the houses in covered 
cars only. 3 Manu's law also requires that women 
should be watched (IV. 263). The power of the father, 

1 Ammian, 23, 6. 

2 Herod. 3, 70, 88; Dinon. fragm. 17, ed. Muller; Ctes. " Pers. 
Eel." 44. 3 Plut " Theinist." c. 26. 


and the respectful attitude of the children to the 
mother, correspond to the principles of family life 
which we have seen beyond the Indus. Yet, so far as 
we can see, marriage was not in Iran so close and 
firmly established a relation as among the Arians of 
India, where the wife belonged absolutely to the man, 
and surrendered herself in complete devotion to him ; 
nor did the relation of children to parents in Iran ex- 
perience that excellent and happy development which 
on the whole attended it in India, and of which we can 
still perceive the results. If Western writers maintain 
that it was the custom among the Persians to take the 
nearest relations in marriage, so that even the brother 
married the sister (of which Herodotus gives an 
example in Cambyses) and the son the mother after 
the father's death (the latter is said to have prevailed 
especially among the Magi) l the Avesta, as we have 
seen, declared marriages between near relations to be 
good, and the history of the Achsemenids mentions 
marriage with sisters more than once. The more 
extreme assertions, especially in regard to the Magi, 
are to be regarded as exaggerations of the Greeks, and 
owed their origin to their astonishment at a custom 
which was more than revolting. On the relation of 
the sexes both before and after marriage, and other 
matters connected with procreation, the Vendidad 
supplies a number of minute regulations. 2 

The preservation of life also receives great attention 
in the Avesta. We remember the incantations of the 

1 Herod. 3, 31; Diogen. Laert Prooem. 6; Plut. "Artax." c. 26; 
Ctes. " Pers, Eel." 44 ; Agathias, 2, 23 ; HeracL Cum. fragm. 7 ed. 

* The regulations respecting sexual intercourse, abortion, etc., which 
here follow in the German text will be found in " Vend." 16, 33 40 ; 
18, 100122, 136, 152; ib. 15, 917, 60; 18, 115; ib. 18, 115119; 
ib. 8, 7482 ; ib. 8, 96106. 


Rigveda which banish sickness into thrushes and wood- 
peckers, and the sentences of the Atharvaveda against 
sickness and death (IV. 281). The remedies of the Veda 
are water and plants. All remedies are in water ; 
the waters of the springs and the waters of the rivers 
drive away sickness. The plants said, when they came 
from heaven, that they descended from the water of 
the sky. " The mortal whom we touch will suffer no 
harm." " May Agni protect me with the waters, and 
Soma with the plants," we are told in the Veda ; and 
again : " The plants whose king is Soma, have rescued 
me from death." 1 The priest who knows the sentences 
is at the same time the physician, though the Rigveda 
has a separate name for the latter (IV. 35). How 
highly the Indians respected doctors and physicians 
at a later time, in spite of the theory of the Brahmans 
of the un worthiness of the body, and how it was the 
custom there in the sixth century B.C. to send for the 
physician in every sickness, has been mentioned in its 
place (IV. 323). Proceeding from precisely the same 
conceptions, the Avesta went on to fill several books 
with medical remedies. The best mode of healing 
is that by charms, and the sacred word. In such 
incantations of the Avesta we are told : "I contend 
against sickness, I contend against death, I contend 
against pain, I contend against fever, I contend against 
the corruption and pollution which Angromainyu has 
created in the body of men. Sickness, I curse thee ; 
fever, I curse thee ; death, I curse thee." 2 The sacred 
word is invoked to heal by its power. " Mayst thou 
heal me, Manthra Qpenta. As a recompense I will 
give to thee a thousand stall-fed oxen, a thousand 
spotless cattle, a thousand swiftly-running horses, a 

1 " Eigveda," 10, 97, 17; " Atharvaveda," 2, 10, 2; 8, 1, 18 in Dar- 
mesteter toe. cit. 73, 76. 2 "Vend." 20, 19, 25. 


thousand camels, swift and with strong backs. I will 
bless thee with beautiful, pious blessings ; with dear, 
pious blessings, which make the deficient full, and the 
full to overflow, which bind the friend and make the 
bond firm." 1 As in the Veda, the remedies are water 
and plants, " Draw up, ye clouds, draw up," we are 
told in the Vendidad ; " Let the water fall as thousand- 
fold, ten thousand-fold rain, to drive away sickness, to 
drive away corruption, to drive away death. May it 
rain for the renewal of the waters, the earth, the plants, 
the means of healing." 2 As in the Veda Soma is the 
king of plants, so in Iran Haoma, the god of life, is 
the lord of plants. 8 The white heavenly Haoma grows, 
as we have seen, on the Gaokerena, the tree of heaven ; 
from it springs the earthly Haoma and all plants of 
which the seed falls from the tree Vipotaokhma in 
Vourukasha, which the bird Chamru carries where 
Tistrya collects the clouds, in order to let the seed fall 
down from them to the earth. 4 " I, who am the giver 
of all blessings," says Auramazda, " created this dwell- 
ing (the earth), the beautiful, brilliant, and note- 
worthy; then Angromainyu, who is full of death, 
created nine diseases, ninety diseases, nine hundred 
diseases, nine thousand diseases, nine and ninety thou- 
sand diseases. Thrita desired as a favour a means to 
withstand death, to withstand pain, to withstand the 
heat of fever, and the evil corruptions and filth which 
Angromainyu has brought into the body of men. 
Then I, who am Auramazda, brought forth the healing 
plants, many hundreds, many thousands, many tens of 
thousands, around the one Gaokerena," The invocation 
then follows : " We bless thee, we invoke thee, we 

1 " Vend." 22, 738. " Vend." 21, 319. 

8 Justi, " Bundehesh," c. 24. 

4 West, " Mainyo-i-Khard," c. 62. Above, p. 172. 


worship thee for the healing of the body of men, in 
order to drive away sickness, in order to drive away 
death, the hot fever and the cold fever." l 

Thrita, a spirit of heaven, who has a place among 
the sages and sacrificers of old time (p. 42) was, in 
the Avesta, the first physician who kept back disease 
and death ; and every one who follows in his course, 
every physician, must appear as a willing combatant, 
an active co-operator against the evil spirits, from 
whom death and disease proceed. According to the 
Vendidad, those have the first place among the phy- 
sicians who heal by charms, i. e. by the sacred word, 
the words of the law ; these are the " physicians of 
physicians ; " next come the physicians who heal by 
remedies ; and last of all, those who heal by the knife. 2 
These latter must first use the knife on the worshippers 
of the Daevas ; when they have done so three times, 
and the patient has died each time, they are incapable 
for ever of practising the art of healing. But if they 
have healed three worshippers of the Daevas, they are 
capable of " healing the worshippers of Auramazda, and 
they can try their skill upon them as they please." 
The physician is not only to heal sick men, but sick 
animals also, and above all the sick dog. The Ven- 
didad fixes the sum which the physician is to receive 
for his services. He is to heal a priest, and ask for no 
more than his blessing. For healing the overseer of 
a district h$ is to receive a yoke of four oxen, and for 
his wife a she-camel ; the overseer of a canton is to 
pay a large beast of draught, and his wife a mare ; the 
head of a village pays a smaller beast, and his wife a 
cow ; the head of a house a small beast, and his wife a 
she-ass. For healing a large beast of draught the 
price is a beast of moderate size ; and for one of 
* "Vend." 20, 1120. 2 " Vend." 7, 118, 121. 


moderate size, a head of small cattle, etc. 1 Pliny quotes 
a number of remedies and means of cure used by the 
Magi, some of them of an extraordinary character ; 
indeed, the impression made on Pliny by the import- 
ance ascribed to medicine in the doctrine of Zara- 
thrustra was so great, that he maintained that the 
Magism of Zoroaster had arisen out of the art of 
healing, and had introduced, as it were, a higher and 
sacred medicine. To this was subsequently added the 
power of religion, and the mathematical arts of in- 
vestigating the future by the heavens, so that Zoro- 
aster's doctrine had taken possession of the mind of 
men by a three-fold bond. 2 How greatly he is mis- 
taken in ascribing to the Magians the astrology of the 
Chaldaeaus, has been remarked above ; the mistake 
is explained by the fact, that the Avesta includes the 
astronomical knowledge of the priests of Iran in the 
books which treated of medicine (p. 52). 

The astronomical chapters are lost as well as those 
on medicine. From our fragments we cannot so 
much as fix the year by which the Avesta reckons. 
We merely perceive that it counted by nights, not by 
days. It is from the Bundehesh that we first learn 
that the year of Eastern Iran is made up of 360 days 
in twelve months of thirty days, with five additional 
days. This year is said to have begun with the 
vernal equinox, . e. the period when the vigour of 
nature again shows itself. In the last five nights of 
the old year, and the first five nights of the new one, 
the spirits of the forefathers, the Fravashis, come to 
their descendants in the houses ; they awake with 
nature to new life (p. 1 79). The first month is called 
Farvardin after these spirits ; of the remaining eleven, 
six are called after the Amesha Qpentas, and the 
1 " Vend." 7, 103, 117. * " H. N." 30, 1. 


remaining five, which are inserted between the six, 
after Mithra, Tistrya, the spirits of fire and water, 
and lastly after the law (Din). The inscriptions of 
the Achaemenids give us nine names of months entirely 
different from these. Hence the West had its own 
calendar, as well as its own alphabet, and made use of 
it as early as the year 500 B.C. In the East the 
calendar of the Avesta was in use ; and this seems 
to have been current in the West also in the first 
half of the fourth century B.C. There is no doubt 
whatever that it was the standard for all Iran at the 
time of the Sassanids. 1 

We have already set forth in detail what weight 
the Avesta lays on purity, and the avoidance of con- 
tact with dead matter, which has fallen into the power 
of the Daevas. From these points of view, in conse- 
quence of the reform, the priests in Iran came to adopt 
a peculiar mode of burial. Among the Arians of the 
Panjab the oldest form of burial was interment, and in 
time cremation came into use (IV. 62). But could 

1 Von Gutschmid (" Das iranische Wandeljahr, Berichte der K. 
Sachsischen Gesellschaft der Wiss." 1862) places the establishment of 
the cycle, by which, in order to bring the year of 365 days into 
agreement with the natural time, a month was inserted every 120 
years, and consequently the introduction of the East Iranian calendar 
into the whole kingdom, in the year 411, or between 428 and 381 
B.C. That the beginning of the year was universally placed in the 
spring after the introduction of this calendar, and fixed between 
March and the middle of June, would follow from the importance 
of the Farvardin festival, even if it were not sufficiently vouched 
for by other evidence. The Bundehesh (c. 25) speaks of the year as 
fixed, inasmuch as it reckons the shortening of the days from a certain 
day in the month of Tir, and puts the shortest day on the 20th of the 
month of Din, yet it adds that the priests reckoned on this basis, and 
that the lunar year did not correspond to the year thus calculated. 
The Cappadocian names for the months are those of the East Iranian 
calendar ; and the Cappadocians cannot have obtained those till 
the calendar was current throughout the whole kingdom of the 
Achsemenids. On this ground also Von Gutschmid's dates do not 
seem to be too high. 

VOL. v, Q 


the Athravas allow anything so unclean as a corpse to 
be laid on fire, the pure " son of Auramazda " ? If the 
corpse was thrown into water the pure water was 
denied ; if buried in the earth pollution was cast 
on the beautiful, submissive daughter of Auramazda. 
Nothing therefore remained for the priests but to leave 
the corpse above the earth ; in this case it served the 
pure animals, the birds and dogs, for nourishment, 
and was thus destroyed in the best manner. To 
throw a corpse into water, to bury or burn it, are 
great sins, actions which do not admit of expiation, 1 
and those who do such things "help the drought 
which destroys the pasture, and the evil onsweeping 
winter, which kills the flock, and is full of snow ; such 
men are impure for ever." 8 Any one who buries a 
dead dog or a dead man in the earth, and does not 
dig the body up again within half a year, is to receive 
twice five hundred stripes ; any one who allows it to 
remain in the earth for a year, is* to receive twice a 
thousand stripes ; but if a man leaves a corpse in the 
earth for more than two years, there is for him neither 
penalty, nor expiation, nor purification. 8 

The dead are to be carried away on peculiarly dry 
paths, little trodden by cattle, beasts of draught, and 
pure men, and laid on the driest and barest places in 
the earth, on the highest eminences where carnivorous 
birds and dogs may most easily see them.* The soil 
is to be dug out, waist deep, if the earth is soft ; if 
hard, to the depth of half a foot, and this depression 
is to be filled with tiles, stones, and dust ; for damp 
earth contracts pollution most readily, whereas stones, 
tiles, and dust contract it very slowly. To this place 
(Dakhma) the naked corpse is to be taken on a bier, 

1 " Vend." 1, 48 ; 6, 6 and toe. etf. " Vend." 7, 6571. 

8 "Vend." 3, 122136. "Vend." 6, 9395; 8, 13; 3, 6054. 


which has a foundation of stones or tiles, by two strong 
men never by one : one bearer would pollute himself 
for ever, and the Druj N&9U would never leave him. 
Any one who throws a cloth on the dead must be 
punished with twice four hundred, or twice a thousand 
stripes, according to the size of the cloth. The corpse 
is to be placed on the Dakhma, with the face turned 
to the sun (any one who does not place the body with 
its face to the sun, is to pay the same penalty as is 
prescribed for the murder of a pure man 1 ) : the corpse 
is then to be secured in its place by iron, stones, or 
lead, attached to the feet or hair, in order that the 
birds and dogs may not carry away the bones and 
remains to water and trees : the neglect of these 
fastenings is to be punished with twice two hundred 
stripes. 2 If it rains or snows, or the wind is strong, so 
that the necessary preparations cannot be made on 
the day of death, the corpse can be carried on its own 
bed and mat to the Dakhma. 3 

At these burial-places the Daevas hold their meet- 
ings ; there they propagate and assemble, " in order 
to bring to death, fifty, a hundred, a thousand, ten 
thousand, an innumerable host of men ; " there the 
Daevas are most dangerous and deadly to men : for 
in the places of burial are "infection, disease, fever, 
impurity, ague, trembling, and old hair." A Dakhma 
is not pure till the body has been eaten by dogs and 
birds, till the remains have entirely changed into dust, 
and become utterly mixed up with the foundation of 
mortar, tiles, and stones. When this point has been 
reached, the Dakhma should be levelled. Such de- 
struction of the place of burial is regarded by the law- 
book as the annihilation of death itself ; as one of the 
highest virtues of the faithful. " He who levels only 

1 " Vend." 5, 13, 14, 47, 48. 2 " Vend." 6, 98 ff. 3 "Vend." 6, 106. 

Q 2 


so much as the size of his own body of a burial-place," 
says the book of the law, "has repented of all his 
sins which he has committed in thought, speech, and 
action ; he has not only repented of them, but he has 
expiated them, and the two heavenly powers will not 
begin a contest about his entrance into paradise." ] 

The prescriptions of the law for the purification of 
the vessels and clothes which have touched the corpse, 
are given from regard to utility, and from the point of 
view of a certain simple rationalism, which forms an 
advantageous contrast between Iran and India. Vessels 
of lead, wood, and earth, are impure for ever ; vessels 
of gold and silver can be taken into use again after a 
number of washings with gomez. Garments on which 
spittle, moisture, or dung have fallen are to be cut in 
pieces and buried ; in other cases they can be purified 
with gomez, water, and earth, and aired, and then 
again taken into use for women at the time of im- 
purity. The house of the dead is pure when the 
period for the extinction, of the fire is over, when 
the prayers appointed for the dead have been said, 
and the inhabitants of the house have had their 
bodies and clothes washed three times, and the sacred 
hymns have been sung (p. 215). 

For the bearers, who have carried a corpse to the 
Dakhma, and those who in any way have come into 
contact with a corpse, special forms of purification are 
necessary. The washing of the bearers must be begun 
immediately after the corpse has been deposited. For 
this purpose the gomez of the nearest male and female 
relation of the dead is required as well as that of 
" cattle and beasts of draught." At the last washing 
the Druj Na9u springs out of the forehead between 
the eyebrows, from thence to the shoulders and under 

1 " Vend." 7, 126147. 


the arms, until at length by continued ablutions she 
is driven into the left toes, and is compelled to pass 
away from there to the north in the form of a fly. 1 
In order to purify the way on which the dead has 
been carried to the Dakhma, a dog must be led along 
it, three times, six times, and nine times. Then a 
priest must walk along it, who pronounces the " vic- 
torious words," *. e. certain exorcisms. " I drive 
back the Daevi Druj, so that she flies to the North. 
Avaunt ! She must not slay the corporeal world of 
the pure. May Auramazda and Qpenta Armaiti protect 
us from our enemies ; may Qraosha come, and Vohu- 
mano." 2 The worst of all forms of pollution is that 
contracted by touching a corpse in a distant place in 
solitude, for here the power of the demon was greatest. 
Any one to whom this has happened, is to wash him- 
self fifteen times with water, and rub himself an equal 
number of times with earth, to hurry away from the 
spot, and call out to every one whom he meets: "I 
have touched a dead body, without wishing it in 
thought, word, or deed ; my desire is purification." 
Every one is to avoid him unless he wishes to bring 
on himself the guilt of the impure man. 3 

Pools and streams are polluted by corpses till the 
corpses have been removed and rain has thrice fallen 
upon the water ; after this cattle and men can again 
drink of the water. So long as the corpse lies in a 
river, the fiend of death extends over nine paces 
above and three paces below it, and six paces on 
either side ; in a pool the domain of the fiend is six 
paces in every direction ; in snow and ice-water it is 
three paces. When Zarathrustra asks, whether the 
water which falls from heaven on the corpse is impure, 

1 "Vend" 8, 3436; 130228. 2 "Vend." 8,3864. 

3 "Vend." 8, 271310; 9, 164166. 


the god answers, " I, Auramazda, allow the water to 
go forth from Lake Vourukasha, with storms and 
clouds, and to fall on a corpse ; I, Auramazda, and to 
flow upon a burial-place, and upon a dung-heap, and 
carry away a bone, and wash all into Lake Puitika (the 
pool of purification in heaven). When purified the 
waters flow from Lake Puitika into Lake Vourukasha. 
I, Auramazda, rain down herbs of all kinds, to be 
food for the pious men, food for the useful cattle. 
With such speeches Auramazda appeased the just 
Zarathrustra." 1 Zarathrustra further inquires, whether 
corpses which have been carried by dogs, wolves, and 
panthers to a field make the field and men impure ? 
Auramazda, as frequently happens in such cases, 
argues from the point of view of the possible and 
attainable. " If such corpses," says the god, " rendered 
men impure, all mankind would quickly be rendered 
impure owing to the multitude of the corpses which 
are upon the earth." But Zarathrustra is not satisfied ; 
he says : "A man dies in the hollow of a valley ; from 
the heights of the mountains a bird flies down to the 
valley, and then back to the summit of a mountain, 
and alights on a tree of hard or soft wood. There he 
is sick and voids excrements. Then a man goes up 
from the valley to the summit of the mountain, and 
comes to the tree, on which the bird has sat, and seeks 
fuel for his fire. He cuts the tree down, splits it up, 
and kindles a fire with it. What is his penalty ? " 
Auramazda again replies that nothing carried away 
by wolves, dogs, birds, flies, or winds pollutes men. 
But now it occurs to Zarathrustra, or rather to the 
priests who have written these things down, whether 
the animals which have eaten the corpses are not 
impure. This difficulty Auramazda solves by declar- 

1 "Vend." 5, 15 21, according to Geldner's rendering. 


ing the animals pure ; but no flesh of such animals is 
to be eaten within a year, or offered for sacrifice. 1 

With the exception of Herodotus, Strabo, and 
Agathias, the Western writers give us only very exag- 
gerated accounts of the peculiar mode of burial in use 
among the Persians. Herodotus has already told us 
that the corpses of the Magians were exposed to dogs 
and birds ; with regard to the corpses of the rest he 
had no accurate knowledge, for a mystery was made of 
the matter. 2 Onesicritus relates that those Bactrians, 
who were weakened by disease and age, were thrown to 
dogs brought up for the purpose and called buriers of 
the dead ; and Strabo says that among the Caspians, 
parents, when they had reached seventy years of age, 
were shut up by their children, and so killed by starv- 
ation ; 3 though he also observes that the Magians 
gave over the corpses to birds. 4 Cicero narrates that 
it was not the custom of the Magians to bury the 
corpses of their dead before they had been torn by 
wild animals : in Hyrcania a peculiar kind of dog 
was reared by the lower classes in common ; of the 
wealthier men each had his ow;n by which they 
might be torn after death, and this was considered 
the best kind of burial. 5 From Eusebius we hear 
that the Medes gave the dying to carefully-reared 
dogs ; the Hyrcanians and Caspians those who were 
still alive ; the Bactrians the old ; others the dead. 6 
Agathias, on the other hand, tells us, that the dead 
among the Persians were carried out before the 
gates of the cities naked and without a coffin, and 
eaten by dogs, so that the bones lay about in the 
fields. If any man's corpse was not at once eaten, the 

1 "Vend." 5, 122; 7, 189191. a Herod. 1, 140; 3, 16. 

Strabo, p. 517. 4 Strabo, p. 735. Cf. p. 520. 

6 " Quaest Tuscul." 1, 45. 6 Euseb. " Praep. Evang." p. 277. 


Persians believed that he had been of an unholy mind, 
that his soul was unjust and wicked, and so had 
come into the power of the evil spirits, and would be 
carried into hell. Such men were lamented by their 
friends, because they had no part in the better lot. 
Those who were most quickly eaten up, the Persians 
praised as fortunate ; they called their souls the best, 
and like the gods, and said of them that they had 
gone into the good land. 1 

The Greeks maintained that the Achaemenids were 
buried at Pasargadae and Persepolis, and that the 
corpse of Cyrus rested at Pasargadae. 2 Of Darius 
we are told that even in his lifetime he caused his 
tomb to be prepared on the summit of a mountain. 
The corpses of Artaxerxes I. of Damaspia, and of 
his son Xerxes, were buried, according to Ctesias, in 
Persia. 3 The last Darius was buried by Alexander in 
the royal sepulchre, when he had already given the 
honours of burial to the Persian queen Statera. 4 Dio- 
dorus tells us that these tombs were on the eastern 
side of the citadel of Persepolis, at a distance of four 
hundred feet, in the "royal mountain." The rock 
was hewn out, and contained several chambers. But 
these tombs had no entrance ; the corpses were drawn 
up by machines to the summit, and so laid in them. 5 

The burial-places of the rulers of ancient Persia can 
still be recognised. Some hundred paces to the east 
of the remains of the royal palace at Persepolis, to- 
wards the rising of the sun, precisely as Diodorus 
describes the place, are three stone pictures in Mount 
Rachmed. Sculptures which begin three hundred feet 

1 Agath. 2, 23. Diod. 17, 71 ; Arrian, " Auab." 3, 22 ; 6, 29. 

3 Ctes. " Pers. EcL" 44, 46 ; Strabo, p. 730. 

4 Arrian, /. c. ; Justin, 11, 15; Aelian, " Var. Hist." 6, 8; Plut. 
" Alex." c. 30. 

6 Diod. 17, 71 ; cf. Ctes. " Pers. Eel." 15. 


above the ground on the perpendicular front of the 
mountain form three high fa9ades, with pillars, which 
present a gateway with woodwork, supporting a large 
canopy, on which are seen several rows of dogs ; the 
same animals are to be seen on the lower lines of 
ornamentation. Within this framework are the pictures 
of the buried sovereigns. In the left hand is the bow 
without a string ; the right is raised in an attitude of 
prayer, and the figures are standing before an altar of 
burning fire. The king is supported on a foundation 
upheld by the arms of several rows of men, who repre- 
sent the conquered lands. Two leagues to the north of 
Persepolis are four great sculptures, now called Naksh- 
i-Rustem, i. e. pictures of Rustem, of a similar kind, but 
beginning only sixty or seventy feet from the ground, 
deeply cut in the perpendicular wall of two' hundred 
feet in length. Three of these pictures are close to- 
gether ; the fourth is on a spur of the rock, at right 
angles to the other three. The centre of the three 
marks the tomb of Darius, the son of Hystaspes. It 
is the only one among the seven monuments which 
has inscriptions. 

The corpses of the princes might have been exposed 
to the sun, the dogs, and birds on the summit above 
these pictures. In that case they would merely mark 
the place of exposure, and these rocks would be burial- 
places like those of the modern Parsees in Bombay. 
But behind the sculptures, though not accessible from 
them, sepulchral chambers have been discovered. From 
this, and from the description which the Greeks give 
us of the tomb of Cyrus, we must draw the conclusion 
that the Persian custom of burial did not agree with 
the rule of the Avesta with the exception of the 
priests, whose corpses, as Herodotus expressly states, 
1 K. Niebuhr, " Boise," 2, 150 ff. 


were exposed. The Vendidad laments that in certain 
districts of the East, Arachosia and Chakhra, the dead 
were burned, or buried. 1 Under the Sassanids ex- 
posure was strictly observed both in the East and 
West, as is clear from the account of Agathias already 
quoted, and all the statements which relate to this 
later period. 

The regulations of the book of the law with regard 
to the burial of corpses and the places of exposure are 
still strictly observed by the Parsees. Great care is 
taken at the erection of a Dakhma that the rain-water 
can run otf from the bier of the corpse. At the last 
moment a dog is brought into the presence of the 
dying person, so that its eye may be directed on him ; 
and when a woman with child dies two dogs are 
brought, because two lives are in question. The eye 
of the dog has the power to keep the evil spirits at a 
distance. But every one must remain at nine paces 
distance from the dying person. After death the two 
corpse- bearers at once strip the body their hands are 
protected from immediate contact by napkins made of 
old clothes and carry it on a bier of iron for metal 
contracts less pollution than wood accompanied by 
the prayers of the priests, to the place of burial. The 
kinspeople follow the corpse in silence to within ninety 
paces of the Dakhma. For the first three nights the 
priests and kinsmen repeat continually the prescribed 
prayers for the soul of the dead ; in the third night 
the decision is made at the bridge of Chinvat (p. 178). 
The burial-places of the Parsees at Bombay are 
situated on a mountain on the coast, on the summit of 
which several hollows have been cut. From a distance 
the relatives look eagerly to this summit, to see 
whether the vultures are already attacking the corpse, 
1 "Vend." 1, 46, 48, 60, 64 ; c above, p. 137, 138. 


and which part of it they first consume. For the first 
year after death a prayer is said daily before meals for 
the soul of the dead to the Fravashis of the pure, 1 and 
a service is held on the day of the month on which the 
death took place. In the years that follow, on the 
fourth, tenth, and thirtieth day of each month, as the 
book prescribes, but above all on the festival of all 
souls i. e. on the feast of the ten nights during which 
the Fravashis come down (p. 224) prayers are said 
for the dead. 

It is hardly possible to ascertain the arrangement 
and life of the state from the very scanty and obscure 
traits in the existing fragments of the law. We have 
no rules on the rights and duties of the monarchy, 
though these were included in the Avesta, if we may 
trust the list of contents. 2 But the splendour of majesty 
as it dwelt with the rulers of old time, with Yima, 
Thraetaona, and Kere9apa, and was imparted to 
Qyavarshana and Vista9pa, is brought strongly into pro- 
minence ; and among the Amesha Qpentas we found 
the spirit of good order, of good government. Of the 
position of the orders so much only is clear that the 
priests claimed precedence over the warriors and hus- 
bandmen ; that the Avesta allows them certain privi- 
leges of moderate extent (p. 187) ; and that the priestly 
families did not form exclusive castes, though the 
priestly functions were hereditary in them. Still less 
can we learn of the families of the warriors. We do 
not hear that they enjoyed a favoured position ; they 

1 " Yacna," 26. 

* Above, p. 52. The Mainyo-i-Khard contains some rules on the 
duties of the king. The prince is to defend the city and land against 
enemies and risings, to respect water and fire, to keep at a distance bad 
laws and customs, and promote the worship of Auramazda, and good 
works, and to bring back to the right way those who have left it. A 
king of this kind is like the Yazatas and Amesha Qpentas: c. 15, 20, 
33, 68, ed. West. 


are merely mentioned before the husbandmen ; and 
the Vendidad also gives us some information about 
their armour. It should consist of a coat of mail and 
helmet, a girdle and greaves, a bow with thirty arrows, a 
sling with thirty stones, a sword, a club, and a lance. 1 
Under the Achaemenids there were rich families in 
Bactria and Sogdiana, in which we may no doubt 
venture to find descendants of the old military fami- 
lies, enjoying an influential position in politics ; under 
the Sassanids the knightly nobility of Iran comes 
plainly to the front. The Avesta speaks of great and 
intermediate houses, of important and unimportant 
inhabitants of the villages. We also read of rich and 
poor, men who have property and beggars ; and men- 
tion is made of tradespeople and slaves. The Avesta 
rises from the lord of the house to the lord of the 
village or community (vi$), then to the lord of the 
tribe or canton (zantu) and to the lord of the pro- 
vince (danhu) ; an arrangement which corresponds to 
the Indian government as fixed by Manu's regula- 
tions. When Alexander of Macedon forced his way 
to Bactria and Sogdiana, he met with resistance from 
the native overseers of cantons or chieftains, whom he 
had summoned to Zariaspa, "the largest city" in 
Bactria (p. 12). 2 When the castles of the most 
powerful had been taken, and their lords had sub- 
mitted, he sought to gain them by marrying their 
daughters to the captains of his army, while he 
himself took to wife the daughter of the Bactrian 

The protection of property is obviously a matter 
of great importance in the Avesta. The utility of 
dogs is frequently mentioned, which protect flocks and 
villages from thieves and wolves. Theft is looked on 

1 "Vend." 14, 3240. * Arrian, ' Anab." 4, 1, 5. 


as especially wicked, because the thief leads a roving 
life, eats raw and unprepared food, and carries on his 
evil work in the darkness. 1 In regard to contracts the 
Vendidad distinguishes six kinds, according as they 
are concluded by word, by the pledge of hands, and 
are concerned with the value of a head of small cattle, 
a beast of draught, a man (i. e. a slave), and a piece of 
land. Anyone who violates the first kind is to receive 
300 blows with the rod, and 300 with the whip, and 
the punishment increases in the violation of the other 
kinds up to 1000 stripes with both instruments. 2 To 
check injury of the person the Vendidad lays down 
the rule, that anyone who lifts up his weapon against 
a man without beating him, is to receive twice five 
stripes the first time, and twice two hundred on the 
seventh occasion of committing the offence, if he has 
not expiated the preceding six offences ; if he has ex- 
piated them, the measure of the first offence is dealt 
out on each occasion. Anyone who attacks another 
not in anger but with malice, is to be punished with 
twice fifteen, and on the sixth occasion with 200 
stripes, in case he has not expiated the former offences. 
Anyone who inflicts a wound on another, is punished 
the first time with twice thirty, the fifth time with 
twice two hundred stripes. The same punishment is 
inflicted on a man who breaks the bones of another, if 
he does not expiate the offence. If the wound proves 
fatal, he is to be punished with twice ninety stripes, 
and on a second offence with twice two hundred. 3 

"Vend." 13, 143145. 

2 " Vend." 4, 4 53 according to Harlez. 

3 " Vend." 4, 54113. Even after all that has been advanced by Do 
Harlez, " A vesta," p. 101, I cannot convince myself that the stripes 
appointed here and elsewhere in the Vendidad are to fall, not on the 
guilty, but on animals of Angromainyu. If animals are to be killed^ 
we are told so expressly in the Vendidad, and this duty is often men- 
tioned along with the stripes (p. 209). To kill twice 90 or 200 flies or 


We have but few indications in the Avesta from 
which to draw conclusions as to the state of civilisa- 
tion. The amounts to be paid to the purifier and the 
physician are given in animals ; the series of con- 
tracts is determined according to the value of small 
cattle, beasts of draught, slaves, and landed property. 
But other property may be given in place of the 
animals ; we find mention of money (s/taefa), 1 and, as 
has been observed, of tradespeople ; of mats and 
carpets, vessels of earth, silver, and gold, rich garments, 
palaces with pillars and turrets, ovens for smelting and 
for glass. The art of the physician cannot have been 
in a primitive stage, when so much space is devoted to 
remedies (p. 223), and the physicians who heal with 
the knife are designated as a separate class. So far as 
I can see, the Avesta betrays a state of civilisation, 
which, beginning from the pastoral condition, has 
remained in close connection with cattle-breeding and 
agriculture, but has also reached a more advanced 
stage. The unions of the tribes seem dissolved, and 
neither the previous importance of the warlike families 
nor their present position is brought prominently 
forward. This, no less than the liberal imposition 
of bodily punishment, shows that long before the 
dominion of the Achsemenids, the East of Iran must 
have been in the hands of princes who ruled with 
despotic power. 

lizards is no equivalent for murdering a man. I allow that no one 
could endure blows by thousands, if they were given in earnest, yet in 
running a " muck " five and six hundred very severe blows have been 
endured. In my opinion the punishments of the Avesta are not in- 
tended for legal penalties ; they mark what was needed, in the opinion 
of the priests, to expel the evil disposition, which could recur again 
and again. 
1 " Vend." 4, 120 ; " Astad Yaaht," 1 ; Justi, " Handbuch," tub. voc. 



OF the tribes of the Arians occupying the table-land 
called by their name, those which had their habita- 
tions on the northern slope of the Hindu Kush, in the 
valleys of the Murghab and Zarefshan, outstripped the 
rest in combining their forces, and uniting into a larger 
community. In these regions they held advanced 
posts over against the steppes and the migratory 
nations of the low plains stretching before them with- 
out limit towards the north. We had good reason to 
suppose that it was the repulsion of the attacks of the 
nomads from the steppes of the Oxus and Jaxartes, 
which brought these tribes, whose possessions consisted 
of flocks and pastures, into the habit of living in 
arms, and of undertaking the protection of the country. 
From their midst arose the monarchy intended to lead 
and combine the defence, the formation of which we 
placed about the year 1100 B.C., and having its centre 
at Bactria and Zariaspa. The tribes of the West, on 
the other hand, for four centuries after this time lived 
in isolation under their chieftains. The continuance 
of the struggles which Bactria had to undergo, even 
after the formation of the monarchy, is proved, not 
only by the proximity of the nomads of the steppes, 
but also by the traits of warlike feeling preserved 


in the Avesta ; by the order of warriors which existed 
beside the orders of priests and husbandmen ; by the 
chieftains and their citadels, which we found here in 
the fourth century B.C. ; and lastly, by the circum- 
stance, that the old shapes of the myth of the Arians, 
the spirits of the sky which smite the demons, are 
changed in the Avesta not merely into ideal patterns, 
but even into ancestors of the Bactrian kings, and 
connected with the genealogical tree of the nation. 
Yima, Thraetaona, Manuschithra, Airyu, tfya, and 
Huqrava, are changed into ancestors of the kings 
and the people. 

Like the Aryas in the Panjab, the tribes of the 
Airyas in Iran prayed to Mithra, to the spirits of light, 
the clear air, the wind, and fire, which protected them 
against the demons of the night and gloom, and 
gave increase to their pastures and flocks, and re- 
covered the water of the sky which the demons 
sought to carry away. As in India, the juice of the 
Soma plant was the principal offering presented to 
the gods ; as Soma was not only the king of plants, 
the lord of nourishment and life so the liquor 
which gave strength to the gods was here also a god, 
Haoma. The belief in the opposition of the spirits of 
light and the spirits of destruction, in the power of 
the correct sacrifice, in the influence of the good 
sayings, the sacred words, was on both sides of the 
Indus, the starting-point of religious ideas, and in 
Iran it became the hinge on which they turned. 

Iran was divided into fertile land and deserts ; 
next to the most luxuriant growth lay wide tracts, in 
which heat or cold, morass or drought, storms of sand 
or of snow, made life and agriculture impossible. 
These contrasts were most striking on the upper Oxus, 
in Sogdiana and Margiana. Hence it came to pass 


that in Bactria the ancient belief in the struggle of 
the good and evil spirits made an essential advance. 
The old gods and spirits, the ancient worship of fire, 
were not indeed overthrown by the doctrine of Zara- 
thrustra ; on the contrary, the struggle between the 
good and evil powers was spread over the whole of 
nature, and the means of repelling the evil ones were 
increased. The good and evil spirits were respectively 
ranged under chiefs, on the counter-operation of whom 
and their spirit-armies rests the life of nature; and 
on this life depends the life of man. Henceforth 
man must not merely keep the evil ones from himself, 
he must take part in the struggle of the good against 
the evil powers, increase so far as he can the good 
creation which now belongs to Auramazda and has 
proceeded from him ; and thus restrict the sphere in 
which the evil spirit exercises his power. After death 
he will receive the reward of his conflict ; and if in 
and through this struggle he has been made a partici- 
pator in the nature of the pure and bright deities, he 
will continue to live in their heaven of light. 

This development of the old Arian views and 
reform of the religion received the impulse which 
eventually called it into life at the time when Vista9pa 
was king of Bactria. It must have taken place about 
the year 1000 B.C., i. e. about the time when the 
Brahmans on the Ganges came to reform their ancient 
faith, and exalted Brahman above Indra and the 
ancient deities. From the idea of this new god, in 
whicli the power of the Holy and the world-soul were 
equal factors, the Brahmans arrived at a sharp distinc- 
tion between spirit and matter. Their ethics, begin- 
ning with the rejection of nature, could not but 
require the annihilation of the body as their final 
goal, and this led to the vain pursuit of impossibilities, 

VOL. v. 


to the ascetic suicide of body and soul. The doctrine 
of Zarathrustra does not recognise the contradiction 
of spirit and matter. The good God has not created 
the world in order to entangle men in evil and 
wickedness, but in order to give to it and to mankind 
life and increase. It is only one side of nature, not 
the whole of it, and that side harmful to men, which 
has proceeded from evil, and this evil does not come 
from the good, but from the wicked spirit. Evil is 
here limited to gloom, desolation, drought and death. 
As it is this part, and this only in nature, which has 
to be removed, man is not called upon to lay aside his 
whole nature, but on the contrary to rejoice in the 
beneficial side of it. This he must tend and strengthen 
in himself, while he keeps the harmful side at a dis- 
tance, struggles against and annihilates it so far as 
possible both in himself and all around him. He 
must strengthen the light side of his soul against the 
dark, and make it the master of the dark ; he must 
banish from his soul lying and deceit, idleness and 
filthiness; purity of soul consists in truthfulness. 
Thus must a man watch and work with the good 
gods and under their eyes. It is not contemplation, 
meditation, or asceticism, as in the doctrine of the 
Brahmans ; it is practical activity and inward effort 
that the teaching of Zarathrustra requires from men ; 
the object it placed before men was not self-annihila- 
tion, but the purification of soul and body, and true 
assertion of self. If a man kept his body and soul 
pure ; if he was truthful in word and work, and in- 
creased the good creation in meadow, field, and forest ; 
if he slew the animals of the evil spirits, then all 
would be well with him ; he would have abundance 
of cattle and descendants, long life in this world, and 
eternal life in the heaven of the spirits of light. 


This reform had been accomplished in its funda- 
mental principles in Bactria, and Auramazda had been 
elevated above Mithra as the creator of heaven, of 
the gods, and the earth, when about the middle of the 
ninth century B.C. the armies of Shalrnanesar II. of 
Asshur invaded the East of Iran. About this time, 
or soon after, the order of Athravas was formed. It 
rose, on the one hand, out of the ancient families of the 
fire-priests, who understood the custom of sacrifice, 
and had preserved the efficacious prayers to Mithra, 
Verethraghna, Haoma, and Tistrya, to Ardviyura and 
Drvapa down to the period of the reform, so far as 
they came over to the new doctrine ; and on the other 
hand, out of the race of Zarathrustra, and the families 
of the zealous adherents of the new doctrine, who 
devoted themselves to the service of religion. This 
order of priests, which handed down in its families 
the sayings of Zarathrustra and those of old days, the 
ancient invocations as well as those of the new teach- 
ing, took precedence of the families of the nobles, 
warriors, and husbandmen, though they were not 
separated from them by any rights of connubium or 
other privileges. From the whole tendency of the 
reform there could not be any thought of acquiring 
such a position as that which the Brahmans the first 
created of Brahman attained among the orders of 
India. When the army of Tiglath-Pilesar II. entered 
Arachosia about the middle of the eighth century B.C. 
the new doctrine had already advanced to the West. 
It was represented among the Modes by eminent 
teachers. In this region, at the time when the Medes 
were under the supremacy of Assyria, a priestly order 
grew up out of the old families of the priests or 
Magians, i. e. the powerful, and adherents of the new 
doctrine ; the families of this order abandoned their 

R 2 


tribal connection among the Medes, and thus formed 
an hereditary caste, which preserved the name already 
in use in the West for the priests, and became so 
numerous that it could be ranked as a tribe among 
the other tribes of the Medes. The formation of this 
order was already complete when, after the middle of 
the seventh century B.C., the Medes rebelled against 
the kings of Asshur. 

Meanwhile the Athravas of the East were busily 
occupied in developing and fixing the contents and 
meaning of the new idea of God, and of the ethics 
resulting from it. They ranged the old gods under 
the new doctrine, and determined their relation to the 
new supreme deity ; they peopled heaven with shapes 
corresponding to the reformed teaching, and brought 
mythology into harmony with it ; from the commands 
of purity they developed in the spirit of the re- 
formed religion the rules of purification and the 
removal of impurities as required in every occurrence 
of life. Thus, beside the old invocations of the 
gods, arose theories of a speculative cast which sought 
to regard the gods as ethical forces, and prayers of a 
formal character ; from the dialectic of the priestly 
schools was developed a very complicated system of 
purity of life, of rubrics for expiation and purifi- 
cation, in which formalism and casuistry were not 
wanting. Enquiries arose how law and justice should 
be shaped so as to conform to the rules of religion ; 
while, on the other hand, the old sacrificial songs were 
collected, the liturgy was fixed, as well as the order 
of the festivals and sacrifices for the new moon and 
full moon, and the course of the year ; the prescrip- 
tions of medicine were written down, and those cycles 
formed which comprised the battle between Aura- 
mazda and Angromainyu down to the last and eternal 


victory of light and life. After various attempts at 
compilation, the priests of the East finally succeeded in 
uniting the sum of these labours into one great whole, 
which was the canon of the sacred scriptures. We 
may assume that the labours of the priesthood of Bac- 
tria, which came to an end with this result, may have 
occupied the same space of time as the growth and 
writing down of the Brahmanas on the Ganges. There 
are good reasons for supposing that the canon was 
finally established about the year 600 B.C., and there- 
fore, on the calculation given, the labours of the priests 
upon it must have commenced about the year 800 B.C. 
Like the kindred tribes in India, the Arians in 
Iran were not destitute of imagination and a tend- 
ency to abstraction. But from the first these qual- 
ities were restrained within narrower limits o winor 


to the nature of the land, while the scenery and 
phenomena of the Ganges tended to develop them, 
and the teaching of Zarathrustra provided a counter- 
poise in the practical requirements which it set up. 
Labour took the place of idle dreaming, conflict and 
energetic activity the place of asceticism, and the 
imagination received impulses to simple and great 
conceptions. The ethics of this religion guaranteed 
the conditions of a healthy human existence; man's 
effort was essentially directed to this present world, 
and the duties imposed upon him were such as he could 
fulfil. Thus they led to results different from the in- 
trospection, quietism, and asceticism of the Indians, 
and the relapse into sensuality which was the inse- 
parable concomitant of the latter. The doctrine of 
Zarathrustra contributed essentially to educate the 
tribes which followed it in truthfulness and manli- 
ness, and to qualify them for energy and action. 
In their sensible, intelligent view of the world, 


in putting theory below practice, and aiming at an 
active life, the Iranians are as far before the Indians 
as the Romans are before the Greeks. 

If Eastern Iran, in the first instance, discharged a 
religious mission, the duty of politics was undertaken 
by the West. The empire of the Medes and of the 
Persians rose and fell, but the religion of Auramazda 
survived the fall of the Achajmenids. It rose to re- 
newed life with the empire of the Arsacids and Sas&i- 
nids. The national reaction against the dominion of 
the Seleucids began with the Parthians; the empire 
of the Sassanids, which subsequently took the place of 
that of the Arsacids, was supported in the first place 
by the tribes of the Persians, and was connected with 
the remembrance of the Achtemenids. Yet from the 
first the Sassanids were prepared to deal equal measure 
to the East and West of Iran ; in opposition to any 
attempt at religious innovation they held firmly to 
the tradition of the East. When after a rule of more 
than four centuries the Sassanids succumbed to the 
invasion of the Arabs, Yezdegcrd III. attempted to 
maintain himself in Merv, as Darius III. had attempted 
to maintain himself in Bactria. The attempt failed. 
Iran succumbed to Islam. Yet it was the East from 
which, not quite two centuries after the fall of the 
Sassanids, a reaction commenced against the Arabs, 
and this gradually increased till it rescued the nation- 
ality and the language of Iran. It was the viceroys 
in the districts of the East who rebelled against the 
Chalifate, and they found support in the population of 
their provinces. A process similar to that which had 
previously broken down the dominion of the Seleucids 
over Iran shattered the empire of the Abbasids. The 
impulse to this movement rose in Taberistan, where 
the Taherids appeared as independent princes soon after 


the death of Harun-al-Rashid ; some decads later the 
Soffarids rebelled in Sejestem, and towards the end of 
the ninth century the power of the Samanids sprang 
up in Sogdiana, Balkh, and Merv, and founded seats 
in Samarcand and Bokhara. Not long after the Ziads 
obtained an independent position in Dilem and Jorjan 
(the ancient Hyrcania). Towards the end of the tenth 
century the Ghasnavids, who had hitherto been the 
servants and captains of the Samanids, threw off 
their allegiance ; and united under their dominion all 
the lands which had been subject to the Soffarids, 
the Samanids, and Ziads. Soon after the year 1000 
B.C. they ruled from their abode in Ghasna over 
Cabul, Balkh, Merv, and Chovaresm to the north, and 
over Sejestan and Afghanistan to the south, and to 
the west over the lands of Elburz, while their armies 
crossed the Indus to the east, and advanced beyond 
the Panjab to the valley of the Ganges. The ancient 
religion of Iran was not wholly lost even in the time 
of Harun-al-Rashid ; Magians were tolerated at the 
court of the Chalifs for the sake of their skill in 
medicine. The Barmecides, who came from Balkh, 
displayed, even under the Chalifate, a partiality for 
the legends and the religion of Iran. The Samanids 
boasted to be sprung from the Sassanids, the Ziads 
were reproached with being idolaters in heart and 
Moslem in tongue. They called themselves once more 
by the names celebrated in the legends of Eastern 
Iran : Minocher after Manuschithra, Kai Kobad after 
Kava Kavata, Kai Kaus after Kava Uya, Isfendyar 
after Qpentodata ; and in the list of the Ghasnavids, 
the Afghan princes in India, we meet at a later time 
with the name of Kava Hurava (Chosru). 

The regeneration of Old Iran, in opposition to 
the Arabs, found its firmest stronghold in Ghasna. 


The deeds of the Achaemenids were completely for- 
gotten in the East which had no part in them; but 
the legends of Yima, Thraetaona, Kava Huyrava, and 
Kava Vistacpa, had lived on under the dominion of 
the Achaemenids, the Seleucids, the Greek princes of 
Balkh and Cabul, and under the Arsacids. Then 
came the revival of the Avesta under Shapur II. 
about the middle of the fourth century A.D. (p. Gl). 
The first Chosru (531 578 A.D.) caused the legends 
and traditions of the nation and the priests to be 
collected and copied ; a comprehensive exposition of 
the whole was made under the last Yezdegerd. Thus 
as early as the last days of the Sassanids the tradition 
of Iran was collected and fixed, and this, transcribed 
in Pehlevi, outlived the fall of the kingdom, and de- 
scended as a legacy of ancient glory to the Soffarids, 
Samanids, and Ghasnavids. 1 On the basis of this 
" book of kings," which he possessed in an Arabic 
translation, Firdusi of Tus on the Tejend, a city of 
which at the present day some scanty ruins remain 
not far from Meshhed, undertook to restore to life the 
remembrance of the past of Eastern Iran and the 
fame of her ancient heroes in a great Epic poem. He 
gathered together the entire existing tradition, and 
under the dominion of Islam cast a new glory on 
the ancient belief in Auramazda, who was now known 
as Yazdan. This poem, the book of kings (Shahnameh) 
exhibits at the same time the New Persian language 
in its pure form, developed out of the Eastern dialects, 
and not yet contaminated with Aramaean and Arabic 

The first king in Firdusi is Gayumart. He assem- 
bles men and animals, and teaches the first to hide 

1 Fliigol, " Mani," a 407 ; Mohl, " Livre des Rois," Intro. Mordt- 
mann, "Z. D. M. O." 19, 485 ff ; Noldeko, "Tabari," 8. xv. 


their nakedness with the skins of leopards. His son 
Siyamek is torn in pieces by a demon. We are ac- 
quainted with the primeval man Gayo maretan ; whom 
the priests placed at the beginning of things (p. 183). 
Then king Hoshang taught men to harness the bull, 
to tame the horse, to forge iron, to till the field, and 
introduced the worship of fire. After Hoshang king 
Tahmurath reigned, who overcame the Divs (Daevas), 
anl compelled them to teach him the art of writing. 
He taught his people the art of weaving, and rode 
round the world on Angromainyu (now Ahriman) till 
the latter threw him off on Elburz, and so killed him. 
In the A vesta Haoshyangha sacrifices in order to obtain 
power over the evil spirits, and Takhmo urupa also 
sacrifices in order to curb Angromainyu for the space 
of thirty years (p. 183). After Tahmurath, Jemshid 
(Yima)is king. He teaches the art of forging weapons 
and weaving precious stuffs, divides men into priests, 
warriors, husbandmen, and artisans ; discovers the 
art of healing, and compels the demons to build 
houses, and erect for him a splendid palace and a 
gorgeous throne adorned with gold and precious 
stones. Three hundred years passed away while he 
was king, in which the Divs were bound, and death 
could not approach mankind. Then Jemshid boasted 
that he had saved the world by his remedies from 
sickness and death, and demanded divine honours. 
This sin alienated from him the princes of his king- 
dom. Jemshid was compelled to fly before Zohak, 
the king of Babylon. Zohak pursued him. In the 
remote East, on the sea of China, Jemshid was over- 
taken and slain. 

The old Arian legend of the happy age of Yima 
show sitself even yet through Firdusi's version. Death 
could not approach men under his dominion ; there 


was no sickness, and therefore Jemshid is said to have 
discovered the art of healing. The Avesta had already 
found a motive for the fall of Yima in the fact that 
he had refused to announce the law, and at length 
had begun to love lies (p. 41). The Zohak of Firdusi 
is no other than the ancient cloud dragon, Azhi 
dahaka, which attempts to carry away the waters of 
the sky, and swallows up men and horses. He is 
now a foreign, hostile, bloodthirsty king, who puts an 
end to the blessings of Yima's reign in order to bring 
the reverse of blessing upon Iran. Azhi dahaka had 
three heads and three throats ; Zohak has two serpents 
growing from his shoulders, to which by degrees 
thousands fall as sacrifices, for they are fed with the 
brains of men, and for this purpose two youths are 
slaughtered every day. That Zohak is called king of 
Babylon is due to a reminiscence of the fact that the 
Assyrians ruled over Western Iran, and the Seleucids 
and Chalifs over the whole country. Zohak perse- 
cutes severely the descendants of Jemshid. Abtin, the 
last of these, finally falls into his power ; he causes 
him to be slain for his serpents; but Abtin's wife 
carries off his young son Feridun in safety to Elburz. 
When the latter is sixteen years of age his mother 
discloses to him the fate of his father ; the discon- 
tented gather round him, and the angel Serosh 
teaches him how to overcome the magician Zohak. 
In the citadel at Babylon Feridun strikes Zohak to 
the ground with a blow of the club which Kave, the 
smith, has forged for him. But Serosh bids him 
not to kill Zohak, who is now chained in a deep 
cave in Elburz, under Demaveud, the highest summit 
on the chain. Abtin. the descendant of Jemshid, is 
the Athwya of the Avesta ; Feridun is Thraetaona, 
the son of Athwya, the slayer of Dahaka ; the angel 


Serosh is the well-known god Qraosha. Feridun is 
not permitted to slay Zohak, because Azhi dahaka 
is also a demon. 

Feridun has three sons Salm (Qairima), Tur 
(Tuirya), and Yrej (Airyu) ; to the last, who was the 
youngest, Feridun gives Iran, the best part of his 
dominions, while Salm receives the West and Tur the 
North. Filled with envy at the favour shown to their 
youngest brother, Salm and Tur slay the pious Yrej. 
Feridun is deeply moved ; but he gives the daughter 
whom Yrej has left in marriage to Pesherig. The 
son of Pesheng is Minocher, who grows up to avenge 
his grandfather's death. In order to prevent this, 
Salm and Tur invade Iran. The battle continues for 
three days, till Minocher has slain Tur with his own 
hand. He also overtakes Salm in flight, and slays 
him. Feridun can now die in peace, as he has seen 
the kingdom handed over to Minocher. After the 
death of the latter the kingdom descended to his son 
Naudar. 1 Then Afrasiab of Turan, the great-grandson 
of Tur, whom Minocher had slain, invaded Iran to 
avenge the death of his ancestor on the descendant 
of Minocher. Naudar's army was defeated ; he was 
taken captive with many princes of Iran, and be- 
headed by the order of Afrasiab. 

Besides the race of Abtin, Jemshid had left other 
descendants. In union with the daughter of the king 
of Cabul, whose kingdom extends from Bost on the 
Hilmend to Ghasna (and consequently includes the 
region of Sejestan, the ancient Haetumat), 2 he had 
begotten Gershasp, a mighty hero who stood by the 
side of Minocher in the struggle against Salm and 
Tur ; the sons of Gershasp are Neriman and Sam, and 

1 Nohodaros in Ammian, 1, 14, 3 ; 1, 25, 3. 

2 Spiegel, "Eran," 1, 557. 


his grandson is Zal. The Gershasp of Firdusi is the 
Kerec,acpa of the Avesta, the sou of Thrita, of the race 
of Qauia (p- 35), who slays the serpent Qruvara and 
the giant Gandarewa. The Avesta gives him the 
epithet Nairimanao, i. e. the mau-hearted, heroic, and 
represents him as seizing the brilliance of majesty, 
when it departed for the third time from Yima (p. 
36). This hint was enough to give the royal power 
to Kerec,a9pa ; his epithet and his tribal name are 
personified, and become his descendants Ncriman and 
Sam. In accordance with their origin these princes 
from Zabul are in Firdusi the most faithful adherents 
of the race of Feridun, which has rewarded them with 
the dominion over the South. In this way the legend 
of Sejestan is woven into the closest connection with the 
legend of the Avesta. The power of the descendants of 
Feridun is extinguished with Naudar, from whose sons 
" the splendour of the royal majesty shines no longer ; " 
thus does Firdusi repeat the metaphor current in the 
Avesta. The princes of Zabul now take their place 
as the protectors and guardians of Iran. The son of 
king Sam of Zabul is ZaL After Naudar's melancholy 
fall he makes peace between Iran and Turan ; the 
Oxus is fixed as the boundary, Afrasiab returns to his 
own country, and in the place of the sons of Naudar 
Zal allows Zav to be chosen king of Iran. Zav is 
already aged and soon dies ; Afrasiab invades Iran 
again. Then Zal deliberates with the Mobcdhs (i. c. 
with the chiefs of the Magians, p. 60), who is to be 
king of Iran. It is resolved to raise Kai Kobad to the 
throne, who like Feridun before him dwells on Elburz. 
Zal sends his son Rustem (Moses of Khorene is the 
first who mentions the Persian legend of Rustem), a 
youth of great strength, who ns a boy had slain an 
infuriated elephant, to fetch Kai Kobad from Elburz. 


Eastern finds him prepared, for he has seen in a dream 
two white falcons who place a golden crown upon 
his head. Afrasiab's army, which opposes him, is 
defeated ; Kai Kobad ascends the throne of Iran, 
the Turanians are defeated in a great battle, Rustem 
seizes Afrasiab by his girdle and drags him from his 
horse ; but the girdle breaks, Afrasiab falls to the 
ground, and is saved by his own people. In the peace 
the Oxus is once more fixed as the boundary between 
Iran and Turan. Kai Kobad is followed by his son 
Kai Kaus. Against the advice of his vassals and of 
Zal he leads his army against Mazanderan, a land 
inhabited by demons, which take the king captive 
witli his whole army. A single warrior escapes to bring 
the terrible news to Zal. As Zal is now 200 years old, 
Rustem undertakes to liberate the king. He has to 
overcome seven terrible monsters before he can arrive 
at the demons. At last he makes his way to them, 
and on his horse Reksh, he destroys the army of the 
demons. Then he slays their chief, the white demon, 
in the dark cave, and liberates Kai Kaus and the army 
of Iran. Kai Kaus now causes the conquered demons 
to build him splendid palaces on Elburz, and resolves 
to fly up to heaven, in order to see the course of the 
sun. Four eagles bound to his throne carry him 
upwards, but then allow him to fall to earth. Ashamed 
at his pride he humbles himself, and his penance 
appeases the wrath of heaven. When Afrasiab breaks 
the peace and again invades Iran, Kai Kaus sends his 
son Siavaksh, under the guidance of Rustem, against 
the Turanians. For three days the battle rages at the 
gates of Balkh, and at length Siavaksh is victorious. 
Afrasiab sues for peace, Siavaksh concludes a treaty ; 
but Kai Kaus will not confirm it. That he may not 
break his word, Siavaksh gives himself up to the 


Turanians. Afrasiab receives him with honour, and 
gives him his daughter Feringis to wife. Subsequently 
he harbours suspicion against him, causes him to be 
executed, and the son, whom Feringis bears after the 
execution of her husband, to be brought up among 
the shepherds without any knowledge of his birth. 
To this son an abode is then allotted in a remote 
region of Turan. 

To avenge the execution of Siavaksh Rustem in- 
vades Turan. Victorious in the battle he causes 
Surkha, the son of Afrasiab, whom he captures in the 
battle, to be put to death in the same way as Siavaksh, 
pursues Afraaiab to the extreme border of his kingdom, 
and does not return till the whole of Turan has been 
laid waste : the booty is immense. Many years after- 
wards it was revealed in a dream toGuderz (Gotarzes), 
a descendant of that Kave, who had once forged for 
Feridun the club used against Zohak, that a son of 
Siavaksh survived. Gev, the son of Guderz, arose to 
seek in Turan the right heir to the throne of Iran. 
For seven years he seeks in vain. At length he 
discovers Kai Chosru, to whom his mother Feringis has 
already revealed the secret of his birth. In spite of 
the most severe persecution on the part of Afra-siab, 
Gev succeeds in carrying away mother and son to 
Iran ; they swim through the swollen Oxus on horse- 
back. But when Kai Kaus wishes to make the grand- 
son so happily discovered his successor, Tur, the son of 
king Naudar, opposes the elevation of a king who has 
Turanian blood in his veins. Kai Chosru proves his 
higher claim by capturing a citadel of the demons, 
and erecting a fire-altar in its place. Then he sets 
himself to avenge the death of his father on Afrasiab. 
But the first army of the Iranians under Tur is 
defeated ; and when Feriborz receives the command 


the warriors of Iran are again severely beaten in the 
valley of Peshen ; a third army is shut up on Mount 
Haraaven. To liberate this Rustem sets forth, and 
conquers in the most terrible battle which he has ever 
fought. At length Afrasiab and Kai Chosru take the 
lead of their armies. After a bloody struggle the 
Turanians are compelled to retire, first beyond the 
Oxus, and then beyond the Jaxartes. Afrasiab flies 
for refuge to his fortified city Kang Bihist ; the city 
is taken, but he escapes into a cave. Kai Kaus and 
Kai Chosru entreat the fire Adar gugasp, that Afrasiab 
may not escape them. A pious penitent, Horn, who 
hears the lament of Afrasiab in his cave, recognises 
him, overpowers and binds him, and leads him forth. 
Afrasiab entreats the penitent to loose his bonds, and 
then escapes once more, into a lake. The pious Horn 
obtains possession of him again, and hands him over 
to Kai Chosru, who has his head cut off in revenge for 
his father Siavaksh. Kai Kaus has now seen the 
fulfilment of vengeance on Afrasiab for the death of 
Siavaksh ; his days draw to a close. For sixty years 
after him, Kai Chosru rules over Iran in peace, and 
then resolves to enter on a pilgrimage to heaven. 
When the angel Serosh has bidden him nominate 
Lohrasp as his successor, he fulfils this injunction, 
establishes Rustem as geueral-in-chief of the kingdom 
and successor of his father Zal in the kingdom of the 
South, and after long meditation, accompanied by the 
sons of Naudar, Tus and Gustehem, and the heroes 
Gev and Feriborz, he begins the pilgrimage to the 
East. When high up in the mountains he advises 
his companions to return ; soon they will see him no 
more. He disappears after bathing in a spring ; his 
heroes, in spite of the command to return, seek for 
him, and are buried in a storm of snow. 


We saw above that in the Avesta, Manuschithra 
and Airyu are connected with Thraetaona, and that 
the group of the Paradhatas comes to an end with 
these names. Hence Firdusi also represents the crown 
as being brought to the first ruler of the new group, 
Kai Kobad, i. e. the Kava Kavata of the Avesta, from 
the sky by two falcons ; he also represents him as 
being fetched from Elburz, t. e. from the holy moun- 
tain of the old legend, in order to overcome Zohak, 
just as Thraetaona descended from the same mountain. 
Kai Kaus, the Kava Uc,a of the Avesta, who succeeded 
Kai Kobad, betrays his divine nature in Firdusi by his 
march against the demons, by the castles which these 
demons build for him on Elburz, and by his attempt 
to fly into heaven. In the Avesta Kava U9a offers 
sacrifice, in order to obtain the dominion over men 
and Daevas, and this favour is granted to him. That 
the march against the demons is made in the direction 
of Mazanderan is due no doubt to the frequent mention 
of the Mazanian Devs in the Avesta. Siavaksh, the 
son of Kai Kaus, who honourably gives himself up to 
the Turanians, is the Qyavarshana of the Avesta 
from which we merely learn that he was spotless, and 
that after Kava Uca the royal majesty united with 
the beautiful body of Qyavarshana, and that he died 
by a violent death (p. 37). The destructive Turanian 
Franghracyana, who is now called Afrasiab, is known 
to the Avesta. "Thrice," we are told, "he sought 
after the royal majesty which belongs to the Arian 
lands, but he found it not." Kai Chosru, i. e. Kava 
Hurava, is in the Avesta also the son of Qyavarshana ; 
he offers sacrifice, in order that it may be granted 
to him "to put an end to the long period of dimness," 
" to bind the Franghra9yana filled with abundance ; " 

1 " Zamyad Yasht," 56 ff. Above, p. 37. 


he is said to be " without sickness and death." Fir- 
dusi's poem neglects none of these traits. After the 
triple war which, kindled by Afrasiab, has lasted for a 
long time, Firdusi represents Chosru as invoking the 
fire Guasp, that Afrasiab may not escape him. In 
the A vesta the god Haoma is said himself to bind 
Franghracyaua, and to carry him away as a captive of 
king HuQrava, in order that the latter may slay him 
beyond the lake Chaecha9ta (p. 37). In Firdusi the 
pious Horn discovers the hiding-place of Afrasiab ; he 
binds him and carries him away a prisoner. Afrasiab 
escapes; but Horn captures him once more in lake 
Kanyesht. As Huc,rava is "without sickness and 
death," Firdusi represents him as vanishing on a 
pilgrimage to heaven. 

In Firdusi, Lohrasp, whom Chosru has made his 
successor, erects a fire-temple at Balkh, his royal 
abode, and after reigning 120 years, abdicates in 
favour of Gushtasp, his elder son, in order to devote 
his life to pious exercises at his temple. When Zar- 
tusht proclaims the A vesta, Gushtasp and his wife 
receive the new doctrine. But Arjasp, the king of 
Turan, sent Gushtasp a command not to listen to the 
words of Zartusht. To this request Gushtasp did not 
accede ; a battle took place on the banks of the Oxus, 
which turned in favour of Iran, owing to the bravery 
of Zarir, the brother of Gushtasp. An arrow from an 
ambush lays the hero low at the moment of victory. 
His death terrifies the Iranians; not one of them 
ventures to avenge it till Gushtasp promises Isfendyar, 
the strongest and bravest of his sons, that he will 
give him the crown if he succeeds in avenging the 
death of Zarir. Isfendyar overthrows the warriors 
of Iran, brings the arms and horse of Zarir into the 
camp of Iran, and Arjasp retires into his land. In 

VOL. V. 


the place of the promised crown, Isfendyar receives 
from his father the high mission of spreading abroad 
the new faith. By means of a chain which he places 
on his neck, Zartusht makes Isfendyar invulnerable, 
and surrounds him with a charm so that anyone who 
slays him will himself quickly die. When Isfendyar 
returns home after a long time, his mission fully ac- 
complished, as all have received the law of Zartusht, 
accusations are made against him that he is collecting 
an army to dethrone his father. On this unfounded 
charge Gushtasp causes Isfendyar to be cast into 
prison. But while he remains in Zabul, the Turanians 
attack Balkh. The aged Lohrasp takes up arms ; he 
cannot check the Turanians ; he falls ; the city is 
taken : Zartusht with the fire-priests is slain in the 
fire-temple, the sacred fire is quenched in their blood, 
and two daughters of Gushtasp are carried away to 
Turan. In vain does Gushtasp hasten up, when he 
has collected his army ; thirty-eight of his sons are 
slain in the battle against the Turanians. Gushtasp 
takes to flight, and with his warriors finds refuge in a 
mountain which is quickly invested by Arjasp. Then 
Jamasp, the faithful adviser of Gushtasp, passes in 
disguise through the camp of the Turanians, to fetch 
Isfendyar out of prison, and urge him to save his 
father and Iran. Forgetting his deep injury and wrong, 
Isfendyar forces a way through the camp of Arjasp, 
and in the subsequent battle slaughters so many of the 
enemy's men that he takes to flight. But the task is 
not yet accomplished ; it still remains to set at liberty 
the two sisters whom the Turanians had carried away 
from Balkh, and whom Arjasp keeps imprisoned in 
" the brazen fortress." After seven conflicts, corre- 
sponding to those which Rustem had to undergo, when 
he liberated Kai Kaus from the power of the demons, 


Isfendyar reaches the fortress. He sends his army 
back, and in the guise of a merchant obtains entrance 
into the citadel. Here he asks Arjasp, to whom he is 
unknown, for permission to give a feast to the prin- 
cipal men on the turrets of the citadel. When the 
wine has done its work, Isfendyar gives the signal of 
fire already agreed upon to his followers ; the garrison 
is overpowered ; Arjasp is slain by Isfendyar in single 
combat, and Isfendyar returns victorious with his 
sisters to Balkh. 

Here a new and yet more dangerous task awaits 
him. Rustem, who made Kai Kobad ruler of Iran, 
and has since done such good service, and achieved 
such noble acts for Kai Kaus and Kai Chosru, re- 
mains at a distance from the court and army of king 
Gushtasp. He despises the doctrine of Zartusht. 
At Gushtasp's bidding Isfendyar must break down 
this opposition, and bring him to the king. Isfend- 
yar marches out and commands Rustem to follow 
him in chains to the court. With a heavy heart 
Rustem seeks to withdraw from the contest ; he treats 
with Isfendyar ; but the latter obstinately insists on 
his terms. Nothing remains for the aged hero but to 
give battle against his will. Isfendyar's invulnerable 
body resists his blows, and Reksh, the horse of Rustem, 
is wounded ; Rustem is himself wounded and com- 
pelled to retire. He has no hope of conquering in 
the battle which is to begin again on the next day. 
In his deep distress he calls to the bird Simurgh, who 
comes, sucks the blood from his wound, and heals the 
horse. Simurgh is acquainted with the future, and 
advises a compromise : there is indeed a way of 
overcoming Isfendyar, but anyone who takes his life 
" must not expect salvation in this world or the next." 

Rustem cannot bring himself to suffer defeat in the 

s 2 


battle, and therefore in the night Simurgh carries him 
away to the tree of life, on the sea of China, and bids 
him break off the branch to which Isfendyar's life is 
bound. Out of this branch is cut the death-arrow for 
the conflict of the morrow. With it Rustem hits 
the place in the eye in which alone Isfendyar is 
vulnerable. But for Rustem also the lot of death is 
cast. He is invited by the king of Cabul, a tributary 
prince, to hunt ; and the king's son-in-law, Sheghad, 
prepares a pit filled with swords and lances, for the 
destruction of the aged hero. Into this Rustem falls 
with his horse, but even in the moment of death his 
arrow hits Sheghad, who had concealed himself in a 
hollow tree, in order to watch the success of his 
scheme. Rustem's son Feramorz avenges the murder 
of his father on the king of Cabul; but Gushtasp 
renounces the world, and transfers the government 
to his grandson Bahman, the son of Isfendyar. 

Here also we find traces of the Avesta underlying 
the poem. In the Avesta Aurvata9pa, now Lohrasp, 
and Vista9pa, now Gushtasp, form a group distinct 
from the most ancient princes. Firdusi represents 
Kai Cliosru as making Lohrasp his successor in spite 
of the murmurs of the nobles. Arejata9pa, now Arjasp, 
the Turanian, sacrifices in the Avesta in order to 
obtain victory over Vista9pa, and the great equestrian, 
Zairivairi, the brother of Vista9pa. In Firdusi this 
brother, the bravest warrior of Iran against Turan, is 
Zarir. In the Avesta Vista9pa conquers Arejata9pa ; in 
Firdusi Arjasp finally succumbs in the conflict. In the 
Avesta Jama9pa is a prince of great influence with Vis- 
ta9pa ; in Firdusi he is his faithful counsellor. In the 
Avesta Zarathrustra offers sacrifice that he may unite 
with the warlike Vista9pa, and that the king's consort 
Hutao9a may impress the law on her memory (p. 37) ; 


in Firdusi Guslitasp and his wife receive the new law. 
According to the Avesta Vista9pa has given his sup- 
port and protection to the law, has set up the law in 
the world, and given it a high position, and made the 
path broad for purity. In Firdusi Isfendyar is sent 
to spread abroad the new law over the earth. The 
Avesta mentions twenty-nine sons of VistaQpa, Firdusi 
even more ; in both Qpentodata (Isfendyar) has the 
first place. In the Avesta Zarathrustra pronounces a 
blessing on Vistacpa, in Firdusi he pronounces it on 
Isfendyar. That the latter was extolled, even in the 
Avesta, as supporting the faith and spreading it abroad 
though our fragments do not allow us to draw any 
further conclusions is nevertheless clear from the 
creed of the Parsees : " I abide in the law which the 
lord Ormuzd taught to Zartusht, and Zartusht to 
king Gushtasp, and Gushtasp to Frashaostra (p. 62), 
Jamasp, and Isfendyar, and these to all the faithful 
in the world." Firdusi has made use of the spread of 
the new law by Isfendyar, in order to bring to a con- 
clusion the legend of Sejestan which he connects with 
the tradition of the Avesta, and to provide an adequate 
motive for the fall of the mighty Rustem of Ghasna, 
the descendant of the mighty Kere5apa. In his zeal 
for the faith, Isfendyar demands more than Rustem 
can grant ; the champion of the faith is stronger in 
the conflict than Rustem ; and the latter, in order 
to keep his honour, avails himself of wicked magical 
arts. We have seen what was the occupation of the 
two eagles of the sky, Amru and Chamru, at the tree 
in Lake Vourukasha, which bears the seeds of all life 
(p. 172). To these arts the champion of the faith 
succumbs, but by his success the victor has pro- 
nounced judgment on himself. 

In the form which Firdusi has given them, the 


legends of Ancient Iran have to some extent con- 
tinued to live among the people, and to some extent 
they have failed. The Shahnameh celebrates Jemshid's 
(Yima's) glittering palace and splendid throne ; hence 
the ruins of the great palace of the Achaemenids at 
Perse polis have gained the name of the throne of 
Jemshid ; ruins near Bamiyan in the Hindu-Kush, on 
the road from Balkh to Cabul, are still called Zohak's 
castle. The smoke rising out of the crater of Dema- 
vend is the breath of Zohak chained in the depths of 
the mountain. Each year, on the last day of August, 
the inhabitants of Elburz celebrate the festival of the 
overthrow of Zohak with bonfires on every height, 
and demonstrations of joy. The ruins of Takt-i-Bostan 
are called the garden of Kai Chosru, and in Iran 
Balkh is still the mother of cities. 1 A lofty and steep 
rock in Lake Zirreh in Sejestan is said to have been 
crowned with the castle of Rustem, and the site of a 
second castle is pointed out at Aivan. Aqueducts 
and dams pass for works of Rustem. In the desert 
of Beluchistan, the ancient Gedrosia, the tracks of the 
camels of Rustem are still shown by large stones in 
the sand. In Mazanderan is the battle-field where 
Rustem defeated the Divs in order to liberate Kai 
Kaus (p. 253). The sculptures of the Acheemenids on 
the tombs at Persepolis are called pictures of Rustem 
(Naksh-i-Rustem), and in the bed of the Hilmend his 
grave is shown. When Timour's Mongols devastated 
Sejestan in the fourteenth century, the people called 
on Rustem to raise his head from the grave, and 
behold Iran in the hand of his enemy, the warrior of 
Turan. By a strange misconception the nobles in 
Mazanderan assume the name Div as a title of honour. 
A large family of nobles in Sejestan call themselves 
Kaianids, and boast of their descent from Jemshid 

1 Bitter, " Erdkunde," 8, 153, 183, 491, 561. 


and the ancient kings, and to this family, down to 
the most recent times, the viceroyalty of Sejestan 
belonged as an hereditary office. When the holder 
of it died, the eldest of the family went to court 
in order to apply for the office, and was duly installed 
by investment with the robe of honour and armour. 1 

While the ancient legends have lived on in Iran, 
the religion of Zoroaster has passed beyond Iran, and 
survives on the Malabar coast. Every day the Par- 
sees utter their invocations before the sacred fire, and 
present bowls filled with the juice of the Haoma. 
Each month, as we have seen, belongs to one of the 
heavenly deities, who is then specially invoked ; each 
of the thirty days of the month has its own protecting 
spirit, who is especially honoured on his own day. 
Six yearly festivals, each of five days, celebrate the 
creation of the heaven, water, the earth, the trees, 
animals, and men (p. 182) ; on each of which special 
prayers are said. At the close of the year the 
Parsees purify and adorn their houses, in order to 
receive worthily the souls of their ancestors : sacrificial 
bread, fruits, milk, wine, and meat are put ready for 
them. The Fravashis, now called Farvars, are in- 
voked " to receive the sacrifice, to lift up their hands 
to it, and depart in peace from the dwelling." 2 On 
these days the priests read the liturgies appointed as 
prayers for the souls of the damned, and for ten days 
the laity have to repeat many thousands of times the 
prayers " Ahuna-vairya " and " Ashem Vohu." Each 
morning, on waking, the Parsee prays : " The best 
purity is to the just, who is pure. He is pure who 
does pure works. I pray with purity of thought, of 
word, and act." When removing, and again when 
putting on, his girdle (p. 217), he says, with face 
turned to the East : " May Ormuzd be king ; may 

1 Chanikof, in Spiegel, " Eran," 1, 556. * " Farvardin Yasht," 147. 


Ahriman be defeated and destroyed ; may the enemies 
be confounded, and remain far off; of all my sins I 
repent." Then he takes gomez for ablutions, washes 
his face and hands with it, rubs himself with earth, 
and with gomez in his hand says : " May Ahriman be 
destroyed ; may the thirty-three Amshaspands and 
Ormuzd be victorious and pure." After a prayer to 
Qrosh (Qraosha) " the pure and strong, may he in- 
crease to greater majesty, whose body is the word, and 
whose club is victorious " follows ablution with water, 
dressing of the fire with wood and perfumes, and the 
proper morning prayer to Ushahin, the spirit of the 
morning : " Praise to thee, high Dawn." When it is 
light, a prayer is offered to Mithra, and two others 
at midday and sunset. In the morning a prayer to 
Ormuzd is recited, in which all his names and qualities 
are enumerated. Before eating, the Parsee must wash 
himself and pronounce the prayer " Ahuna-vairya," 
and after eating, the prayer " King Ormuzd." When 
the Parsee goes to rest he must arrange his bed in 
such a way that he lies towards the fire, or the moon, 
or the East. Before sleeping, a prayer is offered to 
Ormuzd. On turning over in bed, sneezing, the 
discharge of natural or sexual functions, kindling a 
light, approaching water or fire, special prayers are 
uttered, and the sum of daily duties is increased on 
many occasions in family life at the time of a birth, 
or death, or festivals, and when impurities have been 
incurred. However external and formal these numerous 
prayers and rituals may appear, the Parsee forms of 
confession are nevertheless evidence of the depth of 
their religious feeling, and their retention in the 
family and social life proves that the ancient religion 
still possesses a powerful influence. 






ON the northern edge of the table-land of Iran, where 
the mountains descend to the Caspian Sea, we found 
dwelling towards the east the Hyrcanians (Vehrkana 
in the A vesta, Varkana in the inscriptions of Darius). 1 
Their territory may have corresponded to the modern 
district of Jorjan, which has preserved their name 
(p. 9). To the west of the Hyrcanians, between 
Elburz and the Caspian, lay the Tapurians, whose 
name has survived in the modern Taberistan, and 
further yet, on the sea-coast, and at the mouth of the 
Mardus (now Safidrud), were the Mardians. Adjacent 
to these, on the shores of the Caspian Sea as far as 
the mouth of the Cyrus, lay the nation whom the 
Greeks called Cadusians, but whose native name was 
Gaels 2 a name still preserved in the name of the 
district of Ghilan. 3 To the south of these tribes the 

1 " Vend." 1, 42 ; Beliist. 2, 92. 2 Plin. "H. N." 6, 18, (48). 

3 Alexander came from Ilyrcania and Parthia to the land of the 
Tapurians. According to Arrian's statements, the Ilyrcanians, Par- 
thians and Tapurians were all under one leader in the army of Darius 
IIL " Anab." 3, 8, 4; 3, 11, 4 ; Strabo, p. 507, 508, 514, 524 ; Justin, 
12,3; 41,5. 


Tapurians, Mardians, and Cadusians the north-west 
of the table-land was entirely occupied by the Medes. 

The country of the Medes, Herodotus tells us, is 
very high and mountainous in the north towards the 
Euxine, and covered with forests, but the remainder 
of it is flat. 1 Polybius gives a more minute descrip- 
tion of the nature of Media. "It is difficult to speak 
adequately of the natural strength and of the extent 
of the country of the Medes. It lies in the centre of 
Asia, and in the size and elevation of the land sur- 
passes all other parts, while the situation enables it 
to govern the strongest and most populous nations. 
Towards the east it is protected by the desert which 
lies between Persia and Parthia, it has control of the 
Caspian gates, and abuts on the mountains of the 
Tapurians, which are not far distant from the Hyr- 
canian Sea. Towards the north it is bounded by the 
Matieni and Cadusians, on the west it extends to the 
Saspeires, who dwell close to the tribes which lie on 
the Euxine. Towards the south it extends to Meso- 
potamia and abuts on Persia ; on this side it is 
protected by the range of the Zagrus, which reaches 
an elevation of one hundred stadia, and is broken into 
various ranges and groups, separated by deep valleys 
and open plains, in which dwell the Carchi, Cossaei, 
and other warlike tribes. Media itself is traversed 
by several ranges in the direction from east to west, 
but between them are plains filled with cities and 
villages. The Medes possess corn and cattle in 
untold abundance, and in horses their country is 
superior to the whole of Asia, so that it takes the first 
place, not only in virtue of its extent, but also owing 
to the number and excellence of the men and horses." 3 
Strabo allows Media an extent of 4000 stades (500 

1 Herod. 1, 110. 2 Polyb. 5, 44 ; 10, 27. Ct Curt 3, 2 tL 


miles) in length and breadth. It reached from the 
Zagrus to the Caspian gates. The greater part of the 
land was high and cold, but the district below the 
Caspian gates on the lower ground was very fertile. 
Even in the rest of the land, with the exception of 
some mountain districts, there was no lack of the 
means of subsistence, and everywhere on the high 
ground there was excellent pasture for horses. 1 

The nation of the Medes belongs to the group of 
the Ariau tribes, which occupied the table-land of 
Iran. This has been already proved by the statement 
of Herodotus that in ancient time the Medians were 
called Areans by all men (p. 14), by the religion of 
the Medes, and by all the Median words and names 
that have come down to us. 2 According to Herodotus 
the nation consisted of six tribes : the Arizanti, Busae, 
Struchates, Budii, Paraetaceni, and Magi. Whether 
certain parts of the land belonged to these tribes as 
their habitation, is not clear from this statement. 
The Magians we have already found to be a hereditary 
order of priests (p. 191), and therefore we can hardly 
assume a separate part of the country as their habit- 
ation. The question thus becomes limited to the 
remaining five tribes. The name of the Paraetaceni 
occurs in the mountain district, which the later Greeks 
call Paraetacene. This district separated Media from 

1 Strabo, p. 523525. 

* In the most recent times it has been maintained that the Medes 
were of Turkish-Tatar (Altaic) family, but this view rests simply on 
the assumption that the inscriptions of the second class in the inscrip- 
tions of the Achaemenids must have been written in the language of 
the Medes. This hypothesis contradicts everything that has come 
down to us of Median names and works, and the close relationship 
between the Medes and Persians. Whether the Arians, on immigrat- 
ing into Media, found there Turkish-Tatar tribes, overpowered, ex- 
pelled or subjugated them, is another question. If this were the 
case, the fragments of the population could hardly have exercised any 
influence worth mentioning on tho Ariau Medea 


Persia, and there is therefore nothing remarkable in 
the fact that the Paraetaceni are counted among the 
Persians or spoken of as an independent tribe. 1 If 
the Paraetaceni had a special province, we shall be all 
the more justified in allotting the same to the Arizanti, 
the Budii, Struchates, and Busae, as the tribe of the 
Matieni, which Strabo reckons among the Medes, 2 
had a special habitation and territory in the district of 
Matiene, *. e. in the region which after the time of the 
Seleucids was known as Atropatene ; and the tribes 
of the Persians, who were closely akin to the Medes, 
were also settled in special regions, or marched through 
them with their flocks. The name Arizanti (Arizantu) 
might signify the noble families, j. e. an eminent tribe, 
which tribe might nevertheless possess a separate 
habitation. Among the Persians there was a privi- 
leged tribe, to which the royal family belonged, which 
ruled over all the tribes, and this tribe like the rest 
had a special territory. 

The districts of Media, as we know them from 
the accounts of later writers, are beside Atropatene : 
Choromithrene, Nisaea, Rhagiana, Cambadene, and 
Bagistana. 3 Atropatene is the elevated plain which 
spreads round the lake which Ptolemy calls the 
Matieuian lake (now Urumiah). The inscriptions of the 
kings of Asshur call the inhabitants of this land Mati 
and Mala.* Shut in by mighty summits which reach 

1 Paraetacene is derived no doubt from parvata, mountain, or par- 
vataka, mountainous. Strabo remarks that when the Persians had 
conquered the Modes, they took some laud from them. The distance 
between Porsepolis and Ecbatana was twenty marches ; Alexander 
reached the borders of Media on the twelfth day after leaving Perse- 
polis. Arrian, " Anab." 3, 19. 

2 Strabo, p. 73 ; 509. 

8 Under the Sassauids Media (Mah) consisted of four regions ; 
Adorbeijan, Rui (Bhagiana), Hainadan (Ecbatana), Isfahan. 

4 llerodotus allows the Mutieai a considerable oxtout, for hq 


a height of more than 12,000 feet, naked ridges, fields 
of snow, mountain pastures, green forests and meadows 
here make up the wildest, but at the same time most 
beautiful, Alpine landscape in the west of Iran. The 
snow lies on the backs of the heights for about nine 
mouths, but in the valleys there reigns for the most 
part uninterrupted spring ; in the deeper clefts the 
summer is hot, and the naphtha springs must have 
caused this region to appear as one highly favoured 
by the gods in the eyes of such zealous worshippers 
of fire as the Arians of Iran. We have already seen 
(p. 74) that the name Atropatene, which in middle 
Persian is Aturpatkan, and modern Persian Aclerbeijan, 
means " protected by fire." 

In the ranges of the Zagrus, which, running from 
the Alps of Atropatene to the south-east, separate 
the table-land of Iran from the valley of the Tigris 
these summits rise above the hilly land of Assyria to 
a height of 15,000 feet we must seek the territory 
which Ptolemy calls Choromithrene, i. e. by a name 
which beyond doubt goes back to the worship of 
Mithra. Further to the east, beyond the isolated 
mountain-group of Elvend, on the eastern foot of the 
mountains, lay the territory where Ecbatana was subse- 
quently built. To the south-east were the " Nissean 
plains" of Herodotus, on which, as he tells us, were 
kept the most beautiful and largest horses, superior 
to those of the Indians. 1 Polybius has already 
stated, that in regard to horses Media surpassed 
the rest of Asia ; the mares of the Parthian kings 
were kept in Media owing to the excellent pastures. 

includes under the name the Armenians and the inhabitants of Atro- 
patene. Later authors confine the Mationi to the region round the 
lake of Urumiah ; in this sense, Polybius, quoted above in the text, 
limits Media in the North by the Cadusians and Matieni. 
1 Herod. 3, 106 ; 7, 40. 


According to Strabo, there were 50,000 mares on the 
" horse pastures " in the time of the Achaemenids ; 
these pastures any one going from Babylonia and 
Persia to the Caspian gates, t. e. to the Sirdarra-pass 
in Elburz, would cross. Diodorus places them seven 
days' march to the east of Behistun, and tells us that 
at one time there were 160,000 wild horses here, 
though Alexander found only 60,000. Arrian puts 
the previous number at 150,000, and the number 
found by Alexander at 50,000, as the greater part 
had been carried off by robbers. 1 That Herodotus has 
given the name of this region correctly is shown by 
the inscriptions of Darius, which speak of a province 
of Ni9aya in Media. 2 To the north-east of the region 
of Ecbatana, on an elevated plateau, lay the district 
of Raghiana. It takes its name from the metropolis 
Ragha, a city on the southern foot of Elburz, men- 
tioned both in the A vesta and the inscriptions. 
Under the Arsacids Ragha was the largest city of 
Media. Its later name was Rai ; the ruins (near the 
modern Teheran) are said to cover the land for leagues. 
Besides Ragha there were at one time numerous 
flourishing cities in Raghiana. 3 Campadene, 4 the 
Campada of the inscriptions of Darius, we must look 
for in the south of Media, to the east of the Zagrus ; 
it is no doubt the district now called Chamabatan. 5 
According to the statement of the Greeks, the district 
of Bagistana extended to a mountain which was sacred 

Strabo, p. 525 j Diod. 17, 110; Arrian, "Anab." 7, 13. 

1 Behist 1, 13. Strabo's Nijffaia (p. 509, 511), the Nisiaea of Pliny 
(6, 29), the Parthaunisa of Isidore of Charax, must be sought in the 
neighbourhood of Nishapur, which was built by Shapur II. The 
A vesta puts Nica between Merv and Balkh. 

8 Diod. 19, 44. Alexander in eleven forced marches advanced from 
Ecbatana to Ragha. 

4 Isid. Ch. " M. P." c. 5. 

6 Mordtmann, " B. d. Bair. Akadomie," 1876, s. 364. 


to Zeus. As Diodorus says, it was a region tit for 
the gods, filled with fruit-trees and every other 
kind that ministers to delight and enjoyment. 1 The 
name of the mountain consecrated to Zeus, Bagistana, 
and the similar name of the district, go back to the 
title under which the gods are comprised in the Avesta 
and the inscriptions of Darius (Old Bactr. day/ia, 
Old Pers. bag a, New Pers. bay) ; and if Diodorus tells 
us that the region was a land fit for the gods, the 
name Bagistana means the abode of the gods. The 
district may have been held peculiarly sacred by the 
Medes, or the name may have been intended to express 
their gratitude for its fertility and beauty. We can 
fix precisely the position of this district by the hill 
consecrated to Zeus near the modern Behistun. It 
lies south-west of Elvend, between that mountain and 
the Zagrus in the valley of the Choaspes, and is the 
district now known as Kirmenshah. 

According to the statements of Berosus, the his- 
torian of Babylon, the Medes in the most ancient 
period had already reigned over Babylonia for more 
than two centuries. They had suddenly collected an 
army, reduced Babylonia, and there set up tyrants of 
their own people. According to the succession of the 
dynasties which Berosus represents as ruling over 
Babylonia, the beginning of this supremacy of the 
Medes fell, as has been shown (I. 241, 247), in the 
year 2458 B.C. The first of the Medes who thus ruled 
in Babylon is called Zoroaster by Syncellus, after 
Polyhistor ; according to this writer the seven Medes 
reign till the year 2224 B.C. Whether Berosus 
called the first Median king who reigned in Babylon 

1 Diod. 2, 13; 17, 110. The city of Baptana, which Isidore (c. 5) 
mentions " as situated on a mountain in Cainbadene," is in any oaae 
Bagistana (Behistun). 

VOL. V. T 


Zoroaster, or Polyhistor has ascribed that position to 
him as the most famous name in Iran, or the only 
name known in antiquity, must be left undecided, no 
less than the actual fact of the Median supremacy. 

The Medo-Persian epos told us that Ninus of Asshur, 
after subjugating Babylonia and Armenia, attacked 
the Medes. Pharnus, their king, met him with a 
mighty army, but was nevertheless beaten. He was 
crucified with his wife and seven children by Ninus ; 
one of his retinue was made viceroy of Media ; and for 
many years the Medes were subject to the successors 
of Ninus on the throne of Assyria (II. 3 ff). Herodotus' 
account is as follows : " When the Assyrians had 
reigned over upper Asia for 520 years, the Medes 
were the first to revolt, and as they fought bravely for 
their freedom against the Assyrians, they succeeded in 
escaping slavery and liberating themselves. Afterwards 
the rest of the nations did what the Medes had done. 
And as all the nations of the mainland lived according 
to laws of their own, they again fell under a tyranny 
in the following manner : Among the Medes was a 
man of ability, called Deioces, the son of Phraortes. 
He desired the tyranny, and did as follows: The 
Medes dwelt in villages, and Deioces, who was pre- 
viously a man of importance, set himself more and 
more zealously to the task of doing justice, since 
lawlessness reigned throughout the whole of Media. 
When the Medes of his village discovered these quali- 
ties in him, they chose him for their judge. And as 
his heart was already set on the empire, he acted justly 
and rightly, and thus got no small credit among his 
fellow-citizens, so that the men from other villages, 
when they found that Deioces alone judged rightly, 
gladly resorted to him, since hitherto they had had to 
endure unjust sentences, and at last they would not 


go to any one else. As the number of the applicants 
became greater, and Deioces found that everything 
depended upon him, he refused to sit any longer in 
court and pronounce sentence, saying, that it was of no 
advantage to himself to neglect his own business and 
spend the day in settling the disputes of others. Then 
robbery and lawlessness became more rife than ever 
in the villages, and the Medes gathered together and 
consulted on the position of affairs. In my belief the 
friends of Deioces were the first to speak : ' As things 
are, it is impossible to live in the land ; let us choose 
some one to be king, and thus the land will obtain 
good government. We can occupy ourselves with our 
own business, and shall not be compelled to wander 
from home.' With these words they persuaded the 
Medes to set up a monarchy. And when they at once 
began the discussion who should be king, Deioces 
was highly commended and put forward by every one, 
so that at last he was chosen by all to be king. Then 
Deioces commanded the Medes to build him a palace 
suitable for a king, and strengthen his power by a 
body-guard. This they did, and built a great and 
strong palace, on the place which Deioces pointed out 
to them, and allowed him to choose his lance-bearers 
out of all the nation. When he had obtained the 
sovereign power he at once compelled the Medes to 
build him a large city, in order that, being thus 
occupied, they might trouble him less about other 
things ; and when the Medes obeyed him in this matter 
also, he erected the great and strong citadel now known 
as Ecbatana. The walls formed seven circles, in such 
a manner that the inner was always higher by the 
turrets than the next outer circle, an arrangement 

7 O 

assisted by the locality, for the town was situated on 
a hill. In the seventh wall was the palace and the 

T 2 


treasure-house of Deioces. After erecting this fortifi- 
cation for himself, and his palace, the king commanded 
the people to settle round the citadel. When the 
building was completed Deioces first made the arrange- 
ment that no one should enter in to the king, but 
every thing was done by messengers, in order that 
those who had grown up with him, and were of 
similar age, equal in descent and bravery, might not 
envy him, and set conspiracies on foot, but that by 
being invisible he might appear a different being ; it 
was also disgraceful to laugh or spit, or do anything of 
that kind in his presence. When he had made these 
arrangements, and thus strengthened his tyranny, he 
adhered strictly to justice. Plaints had to be sent in to 
him in writing, and he sent back the sentence. Thus 
he managed this and all other matters, and if he found 
that any one was guilty of insolence, and did violence 
to others, he punished him according to the measure 
of his offence, and his spies and emissaries were every- 
where in the land. 1 In this manner Deioces united 
the Medes, and governed them for 53 years. After 
his death, his son Phraortes succeeded to the throne. 
Not content with ruling over the Medes only, he 
marched against the Persians, and first made them 
subject to the Medes. When he had become master 
of these two powerful nations, he subjugated all Asia, 
attacking one nation after another. Finally, he marched 
against the Assyrians, who had previously ruled over 
all men, but, though otherwise in excellent condition, 
were then abandoned by their allies, who had revolted. 
In the war against these Phraortes fell, after a reign 
of 22 years, and with him the greatest part of his 
army." 2 

The account of the history of the Medes given by 

Hurodotus, 1, 96101. J Uorod. 1, 102. 


Ctesias is wholly different. As their subjugation to 
Assyria is coeval with the founding of that kingdom, 
so is their liberation coeval with the fall of it. When 
the Medes, after their conquest by Ninus, had been 
subject to the rulers of Asshur, down to his thirty- 
sixth successor, Arbaces, the viceroy of Media, with 
Belesys, the viceroy of Babylonia, revolted from the 
Assyrian king. The kingdom of Assyria still remains 
unbroken ; it is only after severe struggles, and in 
consequence of the desertion of the Bactrians and 
other nations during the conflict, that it is overthrown. 
After the capture of Nineveh, Arbaces, as supreme 
lord, takes the place of the king of Asshur. 

According tcf the dates of Herodotus Deioces ascended 
the throne of Media in the year 714 or 708 B.C. 1 
The time which elapsed between the liberation of the 
Medes and Deioces' elevation is not given by him. 
According to Ctesias Arbaces established the dominion 
of the Medes at least 170 years before the date given, 
by Herodotus for Deioces. In Herodotus Phraortes, 
Cyaxares, and Astyages follow Deioces in the dominion 
over the Medes, with a total of 97 years. In Ctesias 
the successors of Arbaces, who reigns 28 years, are 
Mandaces with a reign of 50 years, Sosarmus with 30, 
Artycas with 50, Arbianes with 22, Artaeus with 40, 
Artynes with 22. Astibaras with 40, and finally Aspadas 
with 38 years. On this calculation the dominion of 
the Median kings lasted 320 years, and consequently 
Arbaces must have overthrown the Assyrian and 
established the Median Empire in the year 878 
B.C. ; or as Ctesias puts the fall of the last Median, 
king in 564, and not in 550 B.C. in the year 884 B.C. 

1 Vol. III. 257 ff. According to the reigns which Herodotus allows 
to Deioces and his successors, 150 years before the overthrow of 
Astyages, which took place 558 B.C., . e. 708, but, according to tho 
total givou by Herodotus 156 years, 714 B.C. 


i. e. precisely at the time when Assyria began to 
rise into the position of a widely dominant power 
(III. 269, 270). In the list of kings given by Ctesias 
Mandaces and Artycas each rule fifty years, Arbianes 
and Artynes 22 years, Artaeus and Astibaras 40 years. 
This uniformity points to an artificial extension of the 
series by duplicates. 1 If it is reduced by striking 
out the three seconds in these pairs, and Arbaces is 
followed by Mandaces with 50 years, Sosarmus with 
30 years, Arbianes with 22 years, Artaeus with 40 
years, and Aspadas with 38 years, we obtain a period 
of 178 years for the kings of the Medes, and so 
arrive at a point nearer that given by Herodotus for 
the commencement of the Median kingdom, the year 
736 B.C. (558 + 178), as the first year of Arbaces. Yet 
even so we do not find any coincidence whatever 
between the two narratives. 

In the narrative of Herodotus we find with surprise 
that the Medes attained their liberation without any 
combination in the people ; without the leadership of 
a single head. Yet soon after the time at which he 
describes the Medes as revolting from the Assyrians, 
Herodotus tells us that Sennacherib marched against 
Egypt, and asserts that for 75 years after the acces- 
sion of Deioces, " the Assyrians were indeed without 
allies, since they had revolted, but were otherwise in a 
good condition," so that Phraortes and the greatest 
part of his army fell in battle against them. If after 
acquiring their freedom the Medes lived isolated in 
villages, as Herodotus states, would not the Assyrians 
have made use of this anarchy close upon their borders 
in order to reduce the Medes again to subjection, 
rather than engage in campaigns against Syria and 
According to the account of Herodotus, 
1 Volney, " Eechorches," 1, 144 ff. 


it was the justice of Deioces which won for him 
ever-increasing importance, and finally helped him 
to the throne. But had Deioces, who sits on the 
throne for 53 years afterwards, sufficient time before 
his elevation to make himself known for his love of 
justice throughout all Media, unless we are willing to 
assign him a very unusual age ? l And if such dire 
anarchy did indeed prevail among the Medes, what 
man in such times submits to even the most righteous 
sentence ? Least of all are the mighty and powerful 
willing to do so. How did Deioces obtain the means of 
compelling the insubordinate to obey his sentence ? 
how could he give protection to the accused, oppressed, 
and weak against their opponents ? And supposing 
that he was able to do this, would he have been 
unanimously elected king ? Herodotus himself re- 
marks that Deioces knew that " the unjust are the 
enemies of the just." : Moreover, if the Medes at that 
time lived in the simplest manner, how could a 
sovereign elected from their midst change these condi- 
tions at a single stroke, or at any rate in the course of 
a single reign, though a long one, so entirely as Hero- 
dotus supposes ? Village life is changed into city life, 
the Medes are settled in one city round the royal 
fortress, and in the place of a patriarchal government 
over a simple people, Deioces, "as the first," establishes 
the whole apparatus of Oriental tyranny. Immense 
palaces, citadels, and walls are built ; the wide outer 
walls are adorned with gold and silver ; the secluded 
life of the sovereign in the palace becomes the estab- 
lished law ; the legal process is carried on by writing ; 

1 In order to remove this objection, the dates of Deioces and 
Phraortes must be transposed, and the 22 years of Phraortos given to 
the former, the 53 years of Deioces to the latter. Phraortos would 
then have marched out against the Assyrians in extreme old ago, and 
fallen in the battle. 2 Herod, 1, 9ti. 


and a system of espionage is introduced over the whole 
country. It is obvious that in this narrative elements, 
belonging to the tradition of the Modes, have been 
taken by Herodotus and mingled with the views of the 
Greeks, who were familiar with the combination of 
villages into one canton, and the union of hamlets 
into a city, and had experience of the establishment of 
a monarchy by setting up a tyranny in consequence of 
the services rendered by the aspirant to the multitude. 
Herodotus expressly calls the dominion of Deioces 
a tyranny. Jt is a fact beyond dispute that Hero- 
dotus was influenced by such conceptions in shaping 
and forming the material which came to him from 

Apart from the motives which influenced him in 
describing the elevation of Deioces, Herodotus wishes 
to show how the nations of Asia obtained their freedom, 
and subsequently lost it. He begins with the state- 
ment, that the Medes revolted from Assyria, and all 
the nations of Asia followed their example. According 
to his dates, which have been already mentioned, the 
Medes must have revolted precisely at the time when 
Tiglath Pilesar II. and Sargon reigned over Assyria, 
i. e. in the period between 745 and 705 B.C. The 
liberation of the remaining nations must therefore have 
taken place under Sargon or his successors, Senna- 
cherib and Esarhaddon, i. e. between the year 705 
and 668 B.C. That this general liberation from the 
sovereignty of the Assyrians did not take place at 
this period is abundantly clear from the inscriptions 
of the kings and the Hebrew Scriptures. We have seen 
above to what an extent Tiglath Pilesar caused the 
whole of Syria to feel the weight of the Assyrian 
arms ; he reduced Babylonia to dependence as far as 
the Persian Gulf; Sargon was sovereign of Babylonia, 


maintained Syria, and received the homage of the 
island of Cyprus, and the islands of the Persian Gulf. 
His successor, Sennacherib, though unable to protect 
Syria against Egypt, yet retained Babylonia and the 
eastern half of Asia Minor under his dominion. Esar- 
haddon united the crowns of Asshur and Babel, 
restored the supremacy of Assyria over Syria, subju- 
gated a part of Arabia and the whole of Egypt. 1 
Hence it is clear, that precisely at the time when, 
according to Herodotus, the rest of the nations follow- 
ing the example of the Medes threw off the Assyrian 
yoke, that kingdom reached a wider extent than at any 
previous time. If, nevertheless, we wish, to maintain 
the statement that the rest of the nations followed the 
example which the Medes are supposed to have set 
about the year 736 B.C., 2 we must place these events 
in the last decade of the reign of Assurbanipal, i. e. in 
the period between 636 and 626 B.C. We must there- 
fore bring them down a full century, and this was a 
very late result of the action of the Medes. 

Let us attempt, by a comparison of the statements 
of the Assyrian inscriptions on the events which 
took place on the table-land of Iran and the narra- 
tive of Herodotus, to ascertain the real facts of the 
liberation of the Medes. We saw above (p. 19) that 
Shalmanesar II. of Asshur (859 -823 B.C.) carried his 
campaigns as far as the East of Iran. In the year 
835 B.C. he imposed tribute on twenty-seven princes 
of the land of Parsua, and " turned against the plains 
of the land of Amadai;" in 830 B.C. his general-in- 
chief, Dayan Asshur, went down into the land of 
Parsua, and laid tribute on the land of Parsua, " which 
did not worship Asshur," obtained possession of the 

i Vol. III. Bk. 4 ; Chaps. 1, 4, 58. 

8 According to Von Gutschmid. Of. supr. p. 278. 


cities, and sent their people and treasures into the 
land of Assyria. 1 Tiglath Pilesar II. (745727 B.C.), 
in the campaign which carried him to Arachosia, sub- 
jugated " the land of Nisaa " and " the cities of the 
land of Media (Madai)." In the following year he 
occupied " the land of Parsua ; " " Zikruti in nigged 
Media, I added to the land of Assyria ; I received the 
tribute of Media;" and on his ninth campaign he 
again marched into " the land of Media." In an 
inscription which sums up all his achievements, he 
declares that he has imposed tribute " on the land of 
Parsua," the city of Zikruti, " which depends on the 
land of the Medes," and on the chieftains of " the land 
of Media." 2 The books of the Hebrews tell us that 
after the fall of Samaria in 721 B.C. "the king of 
Assyria carried Israel away, and gave them habita- 
tions in Chalah, and in the cities of the Medes." It 
was Sargon (722 705 B.C.) to whom Samaria yielded. 3 
His inscriptions also tell us that he carried away the 
inhabitants of Samaria, and they make mention of the 
cities of the Medes. According to them, he received 
heavy tribute from twenty-five chiefs of the Medes in 
the year 716 B.C., and set up his royal image in the 
midst of their cities. In the next year he carried 
away captive " Dayauku with his people and his 
family, and caused him to dwell in the land of Amat," 
"built fortresses in order to control Media, received 
tribute from twenty-two chiefs of the Medes, conquered 
thirty-four cities in Media, and united them with 

1 Vol. II. p. 319. I cannot accept the theory which Lenonnant has 
attempted to establish on tho geographical differences in the inscrip- 
tions of Shalmanesar IL and Tiglath Pilesar II. that the Medes and 
Persians obtained possession of Western Iran shortly before the middle 
of the eighth century. " Lettres Assyriolog." and "Z. Aegypt. Spr." 
1870, s. 48 ff. 

VoL III. 35. ' Vol. HI. 85. 


Assyria. In the year 713 B.C. he marched against 
Bit Dayauku, reduced the chief districts of Media, 
which had cast off the yoke of Assyria, and received 
tribute from forty-five Median chiefs; 4609 horses, 
asses, and sheep in great abundance. Sargon repeatedly 
boasts that "he has reduced the distant land of Media, 
all the places of distant Media, as far as the borders 
of the land of Bikni ; that he brought them under the 
dominion of Asshur ; and that his power extended as 
far as the city of Simaspati, which belonged to distant 
Media in the East." 1 The inscriptions of his successor 
Sennacherib (705 681 B.C.) tell us that on his return 
from his second campaign (against the land of Ellip), 
he received the heavy tribute of the distant land of 
Media, and subjugated the land to his dominion. 2 
Esarhaddon (681 668 B.C.), the successor of Senna- 
cherib, according to the Hebrew Scriptures, deported 
people from Persia to Samaria. He tells us himself : 
"The land of Patusarra, a district in the region of 

, in the midst of distant Media, on the border of 

the land of Bikni, the copper mountains. None of 
the kings my forefathers had subjugated this land, 
Sitirparna and Iparna, the chiefs of the fortified 
places, had not bowed before me. I carried them 
away with their subjects, horses, chariots, oxen, sheep, 
asses, as rich booty to Assyria." " The chiefs of the 
cities of Partakka, Partukka, and Uraka-zabarna, in 
the land of Media, who lay far off, and in the days 
of the kings my forefathers had not trodden the soil 
of Assyria them the fear of Asshur, my lord, threw 
to the ground ; they brought for me, to my city 
Nineveh, their great animals, copper, the product- of 
their mines, bowed themselves with folded hands 
before me, and besought my favour. I put my viceroys 
i Vol. III. 101. 2 Vol. HI. 113. 


over them, who united the inhabitants of these 
regions with my kingdom ; I imposed services upon 
them, and a fixed tribute." 1 The period at which 
this tribute was imposed on the most distant part of 
Media can only be so far fixed that it must lie 
between 681 and 673 B.C. Assurbanipal, who suc- 
ceeded Esarhaddon (668626 B.C.), tells us: "I 
captured Birizchadri, the warden of the city of 
Madai (?) ; Sariti and Pariza, the sons of Gagi, the 
warden of the cities of the land of Sakhi, and 75 
citadels had cast off the yoke of my dominion ; I took 
the cities ; the chiefs fell alive into my hands ; I 
sent them to Nineveh my metropolis." Thes# events 
belong to the period between the years 660 and 
650 B.C. 2 

To weaken the contradiction between this series of 
statements and the narrative of Herodotus, we may 
call to mind the gross exaggerations in which the kings 
of Assyria indulge in describing their acts and suc- 
cesses, and the grandiloquence which we have already 
noticed more than once in the statements of Assyrian 
history (III. 139, 200). But however great or how- 
ever small may have been the success of the cam- 
paigns of Tiglath Pilesar II., Sargon, Sennacherib, 
Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal against the chiefs of 
the Medes, it cannot be denied that these campaigns 
took place. Ajid if from the very frequency of such 
campaigns, after the reign of Tiglath Pilesar, we are 
inclined to draw the conclusion that they are a proof 
of the lax and nominal character of the dominion of 
Assyria over Media, this conclusion proves too much. 
The same repetition of warlike enterprises on the part 
of the kings of Asshur takes place, as we saw, in every 
direction. We shall have as much right to conclude 
1 VoL in. 150. * Vol. III. 167. 


that there was no such thing as an Assyrian empire, 
either before the year 736 or after it, over the Medes 
or any other nation. As I have shown (III. 185), the 
Assyrian kingdom never acquired a firm dominion 
over the subjugated nations, still less an organisation 
of the empire, like the subsequent kingdom of the 
Achsemenids. Their sovereignty consisted almost ex- 
clusively in the collection of tribute by force of arms, 
in the subjugation or removal of the princes who 
refused it, and setting up of others, who in turn soon 
withheld it. At the most, Assyrian fortresses were 
planted here and there j and no doubt Assyrian vice- 
roys were placed over smaller regions. The same 
procedure is seen in the inscriptions as in use 
towards the Medes ; and if this is not regarded as the 
sovereignty of Assyria, no such sovereignty existed 
before Tiglath Pilesar. If, to meet this objection, the 
existence of an Assyrian dominion is allowed, in the 
very lax form which is everywhere characteristic of 
it, we may, from the same frequency of the campaigns 
against Media, draw the opposite conclusion, that the 
Medes had struggled very vigorously for freedom, 
that in the first place the most remote tribes acquired 
it, and for them the liberation gradually spread, and 
the tradition of the Medes has accepted the beginning 
of the movement as the completion of it. 

Setting aside any conclusions of this kind, even 
tradition can only have regarded the beginning of the 
struggle for freedom as the beginning of liberation, if 
it covered the nucleus of a firm resistance, either in 
some definite district, or in a dynasty which took 
the lead in the struggle and carried it on. Herodotus 
is not acquainted with any leader in the struggle and 
does not mention any, while the campaigns of the 
Assyrians are always directed against a greater or 


less number of princes and cities ; sometimes they 
fall on this chieftain and sometimes on that. 1 If, 
moreover, the fact that Sargon receives tribute from 
twenty-five, then from twenty-two, and then from 
forty-five chieftains, is brought forward to confirm 
the narratives of Herodotus about the anarchy which 
prevailed among the Modes, it is not the separ- 
ation of the Medes under different chiefs which con- 
stitutes the anarchy as described by Herodotus, but 
actual lawlessness. His description gives us no chief- 
tains in Media, ruling their lands as captains in war 
and judges in peace. The Medes dwell in villages, 
and the inhabitants choose the village judge, though it 
is in their power to go for decision to another village. 
Chieftains, even if they had not forbidden their tribes 
to seek for justice out of the tribe, would in any case 
have left the decision of Deioces unnoticed. 

However this may be, one harsh contradiction be- 
tween the narrative of Herodotus and the inscriptions 
cannot be removed by any exposition or any de- 
ductions. According to Herodotus Deioces reigned 
from the year 708 to G55 B.C., Phraortes from 655 
to 633 B.C., over the whole of Media. The inscriptions 
of Sennacherib mention the great payment of tribute 
by the distant land of Media, and its subjugation 
under Sennacherib (p. 282) ; Esarhaddon removes two 
chieftains with their flocks and subjects out of Media 
from the border of the land of Bikni to Asshur, and 
three chiefs from the same district bring their tribute 
to Nineveh ; he places his viceroys over them, and 
they unite this district with Assyria. After the year 

1 That is the reason why I cannot regard the parallels which Von 
Gutschmid suggests ("Neue Beitrage," a 90 it) of the struggle 
between the Arsacids and Seleucids, and the relations between the 
Great Mogul and the Mahrattas, as pertiuout. 


660 B.C. Assurbanipal is said to have taken a chief- 
tain of Media captive ; and in the inscriptions there 
is nowhere any mention of Deioces, Phraortes, and the 
Median kingdom. 

The inscriptions extend the land of the Medes to 
the East as far as the copper mountains, or borders of 
the land of Bikni. 1 The people lived separately under 
a considerable number of chieftains. The five tribes 
of the Median nation, enumerated by Herodotus, if 
they also possessed separate territory, were not isolated 
groups, but on the contrary broken up into yet smaller 
divisions. The booty taken by the Assyrians from 
the Medes, the tribute imposed upon them, consists 
chiefly in oxen, asses, sheep, and horses. The number 
of horses given by the chieftains to Sargon allows on 
an average a hundred for each, and we also hear of 
other property, treasures, and the product of copper 
mines. We have repeated mention of the cities of 
Media and their governors; Sargon conquers thirty- 
four cities. Though we ought to regard these mainly 
as citadels, yet civic life cannot have been so unknown 
to the Medes as the narrative of Herodotus would 
compel us to suppose. Other elements of civilisation 
also are known to the Medes at this time, i. e. in the 
second half of the eighth and first half of the seventh 
century B.C. It has been proved above that at the 
beginning of this period the doctrine of Zoroaster must 
have reached them, and the names could be given of 
the men in Media who published it ; and the priests 
of the new religion became formed during this century 
into an order which perpetuated in their families the 

1 The Patusarra of Esarhaddon might be the Patisuvari of Darius ; 
the Pateischorearis, whom Strabo quotes among the tribes of tho 
Persians; Von Gutschmid, foe. cit. s. 93, but in the Babylonian 
version of tho inscription of Behistun tho Patoischoroans are called 


knowledge of the good sayings and the customs of 
sacrifice. To this order we may also attribute what 
the Medes acquired of the superior civilisation and 
skill of Assyria, especially the knowledge of the 
Assyrian cuneiform writing, which underwent a change 
in the hands of the Magians, and assumed the form 
known to us from the Achsemenid inscriptions of the 
first class. When Herodotus ascribes the introduction 
of written process at law to Deioces, the tradition pre- 
supposes an established and extensive use of writing. 

The dominion of the princes under which the Medes 
stood is followed by the dominion of the monarchy, 
which must have arisen out of it. One of the families 
of these princes must have succeeded in obtaining 
influence and power over the others. The position of 
Deioces and Phraortes must have arisen and developed 
itself in this manner. Whether the Dayauku, whom 
Sargon carried off in the year 715 B.C. with his fol- 
lowers to A mat, is one and the same person with the 
prince of Bit Dayauku, against whom the Assyrian 
king marched in the year 713 B.C. (p. 282), would 
be difficult to decide ; and even if the matter could be 
determined with certainty, it would not be of great 
importance. We often find the kings of Asshur replac- 
ing conquered and captive princes in their dominions. 
On the other hand, it is of importance that there was 
a region of Media, which could be called Bit Dayauku, 
i. e. the land of Dayauku, by the Assyrians in the 
year 713 B.C. There must have existed at this time 
a principality of Deioces among other principalities, 
and the beginning of this must be put earlier than 
the date allowed by Herodotus for the election, i.e. 
at the latest at 720 B.C. In course of time the land 
of Deioces may have increased in extent, and the 
importance of the ruler may have grown though 


he may not, after the conflict of 713 B.C., have taken 
any leading part in the resistance to the payment of 
tribute, the conflicts and successes of other chieftains 
against the Assyrians ; at any rate, there is no subse- 
quent mention of the land in the inscriptions. Neither 
Deioces nor his land is mentioned when Sennacherib 
speaks of the tribute of the whole of Media, and the 
subjugation of the country under his dominion ; nor 
even when Esarhaddon speaks of the conquest of the 
most distant princes. Hence we can only grant to 
the narrative of Herodotus that, in the times of Sen- 
nacherib and Esarhaddon, Deioces, the son of Phra- 
ortes, had a considerable territory among the chiefs of 
the Medes, and greater importance than others, and 
we have no reason to look for his dominion elsewhere 
than at Ecbatana. His son Phraortes (Fravartis), who 
according to Herodotus came to the throne in the year 
655 B.C., must have succeeded in uniting the chiefs of 
the Medes under his sway, and combining with the 
tribes of the Persians, among whom at that time the 
race of the Achaemenids had acquired a prominent 
position, 1 in order to maintain their independence 
against Assyria. 

From this point downwards we can date the union 
and independence of Media. Had the country been 
free and united at the time of Sargon, Sennacherib, 
and Esarhaddon, the rulers of Assyria would not have 
marched against Syria and Cilicia, or undertaken 
the conquest of Egypt. Assurbanipal could not have 
employed the forces of the kingdom to maintain 
Egypt, or reduce Babylon, or annihilate Edom, or 
make campaigns to the distant parts of Arabia, if the 
united power of Media had existed behind the Zagrus, 
close on the borders of his native land, the very centre 

1 Von Gutschmid, loc. tit. & 88 ; bolow, c. 3. 
VOL. V. U 


of the Assyrian power. Still less could he have looked 
on in inaction, while Phraortes, as Herodotus tells 
us, conquered the Persians, and attacked one nation 
after another till he had subjugated Asia. On the 
other hand, the annihilation of EJam by Assurbanipal, 
and consequent strengthening of the Assyrian power 
on the borders of Persia, may well have determined 
the Persians to unite with the Medes, and accept a 
position under Phraortes. 

In considering the situation and importance of the 
powers, we may assume that Phraortes, in the first 
instance, thought rather of defence than of any attack 
on Assyria, and for this object undertook the fortifica- 
tion of Ecbatana on a large scale. What could have 
induced him to abandon the" protecting line of the 
Zagrus, in order to attack under the massive walls of 
its metropolis the power which had just dealt such 
heavy and destructive blows on ancient states like 
Babylonia and Elam, unless we attribute to him the 
most reckless audacity ? Nor, on the other hand, can 
we suppose that an ancient ruler like Assurbanipal, 
who had held his own successfully against the search- 
ing attack of his brother, and finally gained import- 
ant conquests, would have allowed the formation of 
the Median power in the closest proximity, and its 
combination with the Persians, without the least 
attempt to prevent it. It was in repulsing this attack 
that Phraortes fell. 1 

If this inquiry leads us to attribute to Phraortes the 
foundation of a consolidated government, the establish- 

1 Vol. HL 280. The Assyrian inscriptions are silent from 644 B.C. 
downwards. Von Gutschmid, " Neue Boitr." B. 89. From this silence 
I have concluded, and still conclude, that the liberation of the Modes 
took place towards 640 B.C., and moreover that the victory of the 
Assyrians over Phraortes and his death in battle did not bring about 
a decisive change in favour of the Assyrians. 


ment of monarchy in Media, the union of the Persians 
and Medes, and the subordination of the former to 
Phraortes, we can yet understand that the traditions of 
the Medes, anxious to increase the glory of the country, 
threw the monarchy further back, ascribed to Deioces, 
the father of Phraortes, the consolidation of Media, 
and represented the liberation from the sway of 
Assyria as prior to the foundation of the monarchy. 
What Median poems can do for the glorification of 
their country, even in the teeth of the established 
facts of history, will soon become even more clear. 
How this tradition explained the elevation of Deioces 
we cannot now discover ; it is clear that Herodotus 
gives a Greek turn to this part of the story (p. 280). 
And if tradition ascribes to Deioces the extensive and 
strong fortifications of Ecbatana, which more correctly 
belong to Phraortes and his successors, it is Herodotus 
who credits him with the discovery of the mode of life 
usual among Oriental monarchs. The Medo-Persian 
Epos shows us the successors of Semiramis in the 
seclusion of the palace. On the other hand, the 
Median tradition must have ascribed the reduction of 
Asia to Phraortes. We have already remarked (III. 
280), that towards the close of the sixth century B.C. 
Cyaxares and not Phraortes was regarded by the nation 
as the founder of the power and greatness of Media. 
Herodotus himself tells us " that Cyaxares was far 
more powerful than his predecessors." Hence the 
later legend, which Herodotus reproduces, ascribed the 
foundation to Phraortes, and the extension of the 
Median power to Cyaxares. But if Phraortes was to 
be the conqueror of Asia, he must "when he had 
attacked and conquered the other nations one after 
the other," have finally marched against the Assyrians, 
against whom he did in fact contend. 

U 2 



" WHEN Phraortes had fallen, he was succeeded by his 
son Cyaxares. This prince collected all his subjects 
and marched against Nineveh, in order to avenge the 
death of his father and destroy the city. He defeated 
the Assyrians, and while encamped before Nineveh, 
there came upon him the vast army of the Scythians, 
led by their king Madyas, the son of Protothyas, 
who invaded Asia in pursuit of the Cimmerians, and 
as they did not come through the land of the Sas- 
peires, but kept the Caucasus to the right, they 
reached the Median country. Here they attacked the 
Medes, and the latter being conquered in the battle 
lost their empire ; the Scythians became masters of 
the whole of Asia, and ruled over it for 28 years. 
With reckless cruelty they laid everything waste ; 
they not only imposed tribute on all the nations, but 
went round and took from every one all that he 
possessed. But Cyaxares and the Medes massacred 
the greater part of them after making them intoxi- 
cated at a banquet, and in this way the Medes re- 
covered their empire, and again governed those who 
had previously been subject to them. Then a horde 
of Scythians, which had separated from the rest and 
put themselves under the protection of Cyaxares, were 
guilty of a crime against a Median boy who had been 


entrusted to them, and fled for refuge to Alyattes, king 
of Lydia, who refused to give them up. This led to 
a war between Media and Lydia which continued for 
five years, and was brought to an end by a treaty in 
which Alyattes gave his daughter Aryanis to wife 
to the son of Cyaxares. Cyaxares was master of all 
Asia beyond the Halys, took Nineveh, and subjugated 
the Assyrians, with the exception of the Babylonian 
portion." Such is the history, given by Herodotus, 
of Cyaxares, who, on his reckoning, ascended the 
throne of Media in the year 633 B.C. 

If Phraortes had fallen in battle against the 
Assyrians with the greater part of his army, Cyaxares 
(Uvakshathra) could hardly have at once undertaken 
an attack on Nineveh, with a view of avenging his 
father's death by the destruction of that city; his 
first care, on the contrary, would have been to prevent 
the Assyrians from making use of their great victory, 
to guard against further advances on their part, and 
to maintain the freedom of Media. This struggle 
Cyaxares passed through with success ; that his good 
fortune carried him as far as the walls of Nineveh, 
is indeed possible, but not probable ; according to 
Herodotus the collision of the Scythians and Medes 
did not take place in the land of Asshur, but further 
to the East, in Media. 

The facts about the pursuit of the Cimmerians and 
the invasion of the Scythians have been already ex- 
amined, and it has been shown that Herodotus has 
connected the immigration of the Cimmerians into 
Asia Minor, which took place in the eighth century 
B.C., with the incursion of Sacian tribes from the Oxus 
into Media, about the year 630 B.C. He was deceived 
by the circumstance that the Cimmerians from their 
abode on the lower Halys penetrated to Sardis and 


the cities of the Western coast, about the time when 
the Sacse invaded Media and inundated Hither Asia 
(III. 276). The truth is that the hordes of the SacsD 
not only overthrew Media, but passed through Meso- 
potamia into Syria as far as the borders of Egypt. 
Their attack shattered and destroyed the cohesion of 
the Assyrian empire. 

About the year 620 Cyaxares succeeded in over- 
powering the section of the Scythians which remained 
in Media (these hordes were no doubt widely dis- 
persed), and again became master in his own domin- 
ions. He made use of his advantageous position as the 
first who could again direct the forces of his people. 
He showed himself to the Armenians and Cappado- 
cians as a champion to defend them from the plunder- 
ing Scythians, and at the same time aided in liberating 
them from the dominion of the Assyrians. The in- 
cursion of the Scythians had prepared the way for 
him ; in a few years he was able to extend his power 
to the West as far as the Halys. 1 Nabopolassar, the 
viceroy of Assyria in Babylon, who had determined to 
turn to account the severe blow which the incursion 
of the Scyths had given to the Assyrian kingdom, had 
already offered him his hand in alliance. Amyite, the 
daughter of Cyaxares, had become the wife of Nebuchad- 
nezzar, the son of Nabopolassar. But in Asia Minor, 
far to the West, the princes of the Lydians had taken 
advantage of the disturbance and confusion which the 
advance of the Cimmerians had carried to the Western 
coast, to extend their power over Phrygia as far as the 
Halys (III. 435). Here the two rapidly-developing 
powers met. Though inferior in numbers the Lydians 

1 Herod. 1, 72. In Xenophon, who represents Astyagos as reigning 
before Cyaxares, Astyagos had subjugated the king of Armenia ; the 
rebellion of this king was afterwards repressed by Cyaxares. " Cyri 
instit." 3, 1, 6 ft 


showed themselves a match, for the Medes. After a 
war of five years, peace was established between them 
by Nabopolassar of Babylon and Syennesis of Cilicia, 
in order to set the power of Media free to act against 
Nineveh. The Halys became the boundary of the 
two kingdoms, and the peace was confirmed by an 
alliance. Alyattes of Lydia gave his daughter Aryanis 
to wife to Astyages the son of Cyaxares (6 10 'B.C. 1 ). 
Media and Babylonia now thought themselves strong 
enough to undertake the contest against the remains 

1 Vol. IIL 287, 438. Even after the discussions of G-elzer (" Khoin- 
ischos Museum," 1875, s. 264 ff.) on the date of the eclipse, I believe 
that Oltmann and Bailly's calculation may hold good for it, until it is 
proved astronomically that in the year 610 B.C. an eclipse of the sun 
would not have been visible in Asia Minor. If this were proved, 
Herodotus' dates for Cyaxares, who not only in his work but on the 
evidence of the inscription of Behistun, was the founder of the Median 
empire, would have to be thrown back more than half a century, 
which the date of Cyrus does not allow. To assume a confusion of 
Cyaxares with Astyages in Herodotus, is impossible, for Cyaxares is 
twice expressly mentioned (1, 74, and 103), and moreover Astyages is 
spoken of as the son of Cyaxares to whom Aryanis was married. Nor 
can I regard it as finally proved that the double capture of Sardis 
rests simply on Callisthenes, and a deduction from Strabo. Gelzor 
agrees that the incursions of the Cimmerians into Asia Minor and their 
establishment in Cappadocia must be placed at the least before the 
year 705 B.O. ("Z. Aegypt. Sprache," 1875, s. 18); the devastation of 
Phrygia by the Cimmerians he puts in the year 696 or 676 B.C. 
According to the dates of Eusebius Midas (the husband of Damodike) 
began to reign in Olymp. 10, 3 = 738, and took his own life in Ol. 21, 2 
= 695 (Euseb. ed. Schone, 2, 82, 85) ; his reign extended therefore from 
738 to 695 B.C. Hence the devastation of Phrygia by the Cimmerians 
must have taken place in the year 695. If they were masters of 
Phrygia at this date, it is not easy to see why these successes did not 
carry them on into Lydia. As a fact, this is far from improbable ; and 
if the image at Nymsi is their work, they would not have had any 
time for it in 630 B.C., for that incursion was merely a "plundering 
raid," and the change in the dynasty of Lydia, the accession of Oyges 
in the year 689 B.C. (Vol. LTI. 416), seems to me to point to some 
previous violent change. Besides, Strabo's words, p. 61, and p. 647, 
are plain and conclusive enough, so that I see no reason to attach 
much weight to the interpretation of the passage, p. 627. Cf. Csesar, 
" Ind. lect. Marb. Som. aestivum," 1876. 


of the Assyrian kingdom. Cyaxares led out the 
Medes, Nabopolassar the Babylonians against king 
Assur-idil-ili. The latter offered a long and stubborn 
defence, and when at length the walls of Nineveh were 
broken through, he burnt himself in the citadel. The 
Assyrian country as far as the Tigris fell to the share 
of Media; Mesopotamia was united with the new 
kingdom of Babylon (607 B.C. 1 ). Thus Media and 
Babylonia took the place of Assyria ; and Babylon, as 
Herodotus says, was now the chief city of the 

When the kingdom had fallen which for three 
centuries had ruled in the East and West, Cyaxares 
might indulge the thought of making his empire more 
complete on the table-land of Iran. According to 
the story which Ctesias has preserved for us from the 
Medo-Persian Epos of the fall of Assyria (III. 249), 
the Bactrians had been prevailed upon to join the 
Medes and Babylonians in the course of the war 
against Assyria, and the Persian songs which describe 
the contest of Cyrus and Astyages, represent the 
Hyrcanians, Parthians, Bactrians, and other nations of 
the East, as ruled by viceroys of the Median king. 2 
We may regard it as certain that Cyaxares succeeded 
in subjugating the table -land of Iran to a considerable 
extent. No slight proof is afforded of the increase 
and greatness of the Median kingdom in his reign by 
the unusual care and extraordinary efforts of the 
successor of Nabopolassar to protect Babylonia and 
Babylon by fortifications against the event of a 
struggle between the two powers, whose united 
exertions had destroyed Assyria (III. 366). 

The position which the Medo-Persian poems assign 
to the chief of the Babylonians beside the chief of 

1 VoL in. 284 ff., 291. 2 Diod. 2, 34 ; Nicol. Damasc. fragm. 66. 


the Mcdcs, during and after the common struggle, 
has been already explained. The Babylonian is the 
astrologer, the adviser, the helper ; the Mede is the 
man of action. In the event of success against 
Assyria he promises the Babylonian the viceroy alty of 
Babylon, and has already given it to him, free of 
tribute, when the fraud is discovered by which the 
cunning Babylonian has acquired the most valuable 
part of the spoil of Nineveh. For this offence the 
chief is condemned to death ; but the Mede pardons 
him, and in consideration of his former services and the 
promise made, leaves him the viceroyalty. So eager 
were the Median minstrels to conceal the independence 
of Babylonia beside Media, and represent a power as 
great as Babylon was under Nebuchadnezzar as a 
satrapy of their kings. This fiction is maintained in 
other episodes of the Medo-Persian Epos which have 
come down to us. We are told of the stubborn 
resistance which the Cadusians made to the Medes ; 
and an explanation is given how this unimportant 
nation on the shore of the Caspian (p. 268) could 
withstand the mighty kingdom of the Medes. This 
episode has come to us in the Persian form. It is the 
fault of the Median king that the Cadusians have be- 
come stubborn and successful enemies. He failed to 
help to his rights a brave warrior in his service ; this 
warrior betook himself to the Cadusians, and became 
their chief, led them well, and bequeathed his thirst 
for vengeance to his descendants. From such a point 
of view even a Median minstrel could lament the 
perversity of the Median king, and the power of Baby- 
lonian gold, the abundance of which is strongly marked 
in the narrative, could praise the ancient simplicity of 
the Medes : " who took no heed of silver, and did not 
regard gold," as we are told in the Hebrew Scriptures, 


and reprobate the victory of gold over strict justice. 
But it is a Persian to whom the wrong is done, who 
summons the Cadusians to freedom ; and the resist- 
ance of the Cadusians to the Median kingdom, thus 
brought about by a Persian, subsequently furnishes 
Cyrus with a pretext for arming the Persians, and 
also provides him with allies in the Cadusians. It was 
the merit of a brave Persian to have provided this 
assistance for his people long before. The king of 
the Medes who was guilty of this mistake is called 
in Ctesias Artaeus ; we have seen (p. 277) that 
Artaeus and Astibaras, who reigned 40 years each, are 
but one and the same person ; and as the reign of 
Cyaxares occupies 40 years in Herodotus, we may 
conjecture that he is the king hidden behind the 
Artaeus- Astibaras of Ctesias. The king of Babylon, 
the satrap of the episode, is brought in as a descend- 
ant of Belesys (Nabopolassar), and described as an 
effeminate man. His name, in the form given by 
Ctesias, is Annarus. Evilmerodach or Neriglissar of 
Babylon must be meant ; but, without doubt, we are 
dealing with mere fiction. 

The episode is as follows : There was a Persian of 
the name of Parsondes, in the service of the king of the 
Medes, an eager huntsman, and active warrior on foot 
and in the chariot, distinguished in council and in the 
field, and of influence with the king. Parsondes often 
urged the king to make him satrap of Babylon in 
the place of Annarus, who wore women's clothes and 
ornaments, but the king always put the petition aside, 
for it could not be granted without breaking the 
promise which his ancestor had made to Belesys 
(p. 297). Annarus discovered the intentions of Par- 
sondes, and sought to secure himself against him, and 
to take vengeance. He promised great rewards to the 


cooks who were in the train of the king, if they suc- 
ceeded in seizing Parsondes and giving him up. One 
day Parsondes in the heat of the chase strayed far 
from the king. He had already killed many boars 
and deer, when the pursuit of a wild ass (the Sassa- 
nids also hunt this animal) carried him to a great 
distance. At last he came upon the cooks, who were 
occupied in preparations for the king's table. Being 
thirsty, Parsondes asked for wine ; they gave it, took 
care of his horse, and invited him to take food an 
invitation agreeable to Parsondes, who had been hunt- 
ing the whole day. He bade them send the ass 
which he had captured to the king, and tell his own 
servants where he was. Then he ate of the various 
kinds of food set before him, and drank abundantly of 
the excellent wine, and at last asked for his horse in 
order to return to the king. But they brought beau- 
tiful women to him, and urged him to remain for 
the night. He agreed, and as soon as, overcome by 
hunting, wine, and love he had fallen into a deep sleep, 
the cooks bound him, and brought him to Annarus. 
Annarus reproached him with calling him an effemi- 
nate man, and seeking to obtain his satrapy ; he had 
the king to thank that the satrapy granted to his 
ancestors had not been taken from him. Parsondes 
replied that he considered himself more worthy of the 
office, because he was more manly and more useful 
to the king. But Annarus swore by Bel and Mylitta 
that Parsondes should be softer and whiter than 
a woman, called for the eunuch who was over the 
female players, and bade him shave the body of 
Parsondes and bathe and anoint him every day, 
put women's clothes on him, plait his hair after 
the manner of women, paint his face, and place 
him among the women, who played the guitar and 


sang, and to teach him their arts. This was clone, and 
soon Parsondes played and sang better at the table of 
Annarus than any of the women. Meanwhile the 
king of the Medes had caused search to be made 
everywhere for Parsondes, and since he could no- 
where be found, and nothing could be heard of him, 
he believed that a lion or some other wild animal 
had torn him when out hunting, and lamented for his 
loss. Parsoncles had lived for seven years as a woman 
in Babylon, when Annarus caused an eunuch to 
be scourged and grievously maltreated. This eunuch 
Parsondes induced by large presents to retire to 
Media and tell the king the misfortune which had 
come upon him. Then the king sent a message com- 
manding Annarus to give up Parsondes. Annarus 
declared that he had never seen him. But the 
king sent a second messenger charging him to bring 
Annarus to be put to death if he did not surrender 
Parsondes. Armanis entertained the messenger of 
the king, and when the meal was brought, 150 
women entered, of whom some played the guitar 
while others blew the flute. At the end of the meal 
Annarus asked the king's envoy which of all the 
women was the most beautiful and had played best. 
The envoy pointed to Parsondes. Annarus laughed 
long and said, " That is the person whom you seek," 
and released Parsondes, who on the next day returned 
home with the envoy to the king in a chariot. The 
king was astonished at the sight of him, and asked 
why he had not avoided such disgrace by death ? 
Parsondes answered : " In order that I might see you 
again, and by you execute vengeance on Annarus, 
which could never have been mine had I taken my 
life." The king promised him that his hope should 
not be deceived, as soon as he came to Babylon. 


But when he came there, Annarus defended himself 
011 the ground that Parsondes, though in no way 
injured by him, had maligned him, and sought to 
obtain the satrapy over Babylonia. The king pointed 
out that he had made himself judge in his own 
cause, and had imposed a punishment of a degrading 
character ; in ten days he would pronounce sentence 
upon him for his conduct. In terror Annarus hastened 
to Mitraphernes, the eunuch of greatest influence 
with the king, and promised him the most liberal 
rewards (10 talents of gold and 100 talents of silver, 
10 golden and 200 silver bowls) if he could induce 
the king to spare his life and retain him in the satrapy 
of Babylonia. He was prepared to give the king 100 
talents of gold, 1000 talents of silver, 100 golden 
and 300 silver bowls, and costly robes with other 
gifts ; Parsondes also should receive 100 talents of 
silver and costly robes. After many entreaties Mitra- 
phernes persuaded the king not to command the 
execution of Annarus, as he had not killed Par- 
sondes, but to condemn him in the penalty which 
he was prepared to pay Parsondes and the king. 
Annarus in gratitude threw himself at the feet of 
the king, but Parsondes said : " Cursed be the man 
who first brought gold among men ; for the sake 
of gold I have been made a mockery to the Baby- 
lonians." The eunuch advised him to lay aside his 
anger, and be reconciled with Annarus, for that was 
what the king desired; but Parsondes determined to 
take vengeance for the sentence of the king, and 
waited for a favourable opportunity in order to fly 
with a thousand horse and three thousand infantry 
to the Cadusians, whose most distinguished chief had 
married his sister. Then he persuaded the Cadusians 
to revolt from the Medes, and was elected to be 


their general. When the king of the Medes armed 
against them, Parsondes armed in return, and occupied 
the passes into the country with 200,000 warriors. 
Though the Median king brought up 800,000 men, 
Parsondes nevertheless put him to flight, and slew 
50,000 Medes. In admiration of such noble deeds, 
the Cadusians made Parsondes king, and they often 
invaded Media and laid it waste. At the end of his 
days, Parsondes commanded his successor to remain 
an enemy of the Medes, and pronounced a curse : "If 
ever peace should be concluded between the Medes 
and the Cadusians, might his race and the whole 
nation of the Cadusians perish." This is the reason 
why the Cadusians remained the enemies of the 
Medes, and were never subject to them. 1 

Another episode tells us of the contests which the 
Medes had to sustain under the dominion of Asti- 
baras-Artaeus, i. e. of Cyaxares, against the Parthians 
and the Sacse. The Parthians, whose chief was 
Marmares, revolted from the Medes, but handed over 
their land and city to the king of the Sacse, Cydraeus, 
that he might protect them against the Medes ; and 
the sister of Cydraeus, Zarinaea (Zaranya, i. e. the 
golden), who was distinguished for her beauty and 
wisdom, her boldness and bravery (for the women of 
the Sacae took the field with the men), became the wife 
of Marmares. As the Medians intended to reduce the 
Parthians again to subjection, a war broke out between 
them and the Parthians and Sacae, which lasted for 
several years, and led to battles in which many fell 
on one side and the other. In one of these battles 
Zarinaea was wounded. Stryangaeus, the Mede, to 
whom Cyaxares had given his daughter Rhoetrea 

1 Nicol. Damasc. fragm. 9, 10, ed. Miiller ; Diod. 2, 33 ; Ctos. Fragm. 
fi2, od. Miiller. 


to wife, pursued, overtook, and threw her from her 
horse. But the sight of her beauty and youth, and 
her entreaties, moved him ; he allowed her to escape. 
Not long afterwards Stryangaeus with other Medea 
was taken captive by the Parthians. Marmares wished 
to put him to death, and though Zarinaea entreated 
for his life, insisted on his execution. Then Zarinaea 
loosed the bonds of the captive Medes, caused Mar- 
mares to be put to death by them, and allowed 
Stryangaeus to escape. When, after the death of her 
brother Cydraeus, she ascended the throne of the Sacse, 
she sent messengers to the king of the Medes to 
conclude peace and friendship. The Parthians were 
to return under the sovereignty of the Medes, the 
Sacse and Medea were to keep what previously be- 
longed to them, and to be friends and allies for ever. 
This was done. Stryangaeus, the real author of this 
treaty, ever since the battle in which he had first seen 
Zarinaea, had been possessed with violent love for 
her, and went to Roxanace (i. e. the brilliant), 1 where 
was the royal citadel of the Sacae, in order to see the 
beloved princess once more. Zarinaea, who returned 
his affection, came to see him full of joy, received him 
and his attendants in the most splendid manner, 
kissed him in the sight of all, and ascended his chariot, 
and thus, while conversing with each other they 
arrived in the palace. Here Stryangaeus sighed in 
the chambers assigned to him, and could not resist the 
violence of his passion. At length he took counsel 
with the most faithful of his eunuchs, who encouraged 
him to discover his passion to Zarinaea. Easily per- 
suaded, Stryangaeus hastened to the queen, and after 
much delay and many sighs, sometimes blushing and 

1 Roxano and Roxanace are both formed from the old Bactrian 
raokshna. Miillenhoff, " Moiiatsborichto BorL Akadoru." 1866, s. 562. 


again turning pale, he ventured to declare that he 
was consumed with love for her. Zarinaea answered 
quietly and gently that it would be shameful and 
fatal for her to surrender herself to him, and far more 
shameful and dangerous for Stryangaeus, as his wife 
was the daughter of the king of the Medes, and, as 
she heard, more beautiful than herself and many other 
women. He must be brave, not only against his 
enemies, but against himself, and not bring about a 
long calamity for the sake of a brief enjoyment No 
other wish of his but this should remain unsatisfied. 
Stryangaeus was silent for a long time, then embraced 
and kissed the queen, and departed. He was far more 
dejected than before, and determined to take his life. 
" Thou hast been saved by me," he wrote to Zarinaea, 
" but through thee 1 am destroyed. If in this thou 
hast done justly, then may all good things be thine, 
and mayest thou be happy ; if thou hast done evil, 
may a passion like mine overtake thee." When he 
had bound the eunuch by an oath to give this letter 
to Zarinaea immediately after his death, he lay back 
on his cushions and demanded his sword. As the 
eunuch refused to give it, he ended his days by 
starvation. Zarinaea ruled over the Saca3 with 
wisdom and power. She conquered the neighbour- 
ing nations who sought to subjugate her people, 
caused a great part of the land to be cultivated, and 
built a considerable number of cities, and brought 
the Sac into greater prosperity. In gratitude for 
the benefits received from her, and in remembrance 
of her virtues, the Sacse erected on her grave a three- 
sided pyramid, three stades in length on each side, 
and ending in a point a stadum in hei'ght, on which 
was placed a colossal golden statue of the queen. 
Worship was also offered to her as to a hero, so 


that she received greater honours than any of her 
predecessors. 1 

We have already acquainted ourselves with the land 
of the Parthiaiis (p. 10). The Sacae were neighbours 
of the Hyrcanians, the Parthians, and the Bactrians 
in the steppes of the Oxus. Herodotus tells us that 
the Sacae were a nation of the tribe of the Scyths, 
and that their proper name was Amyrgians ; the Per- 
sians called all the Scythians Sacae. The inscrip- 
tions of Darius speak of Qaka Humavarka ; in the 
second version the name is Omuvargap, and in the 
Baby Ionian -Assyrian version Umurga. According to 
the account of Herodotus the Sacse wore trousers, 
and upright, pointed caps, and carried bows of a 
peculiar character, battle-axes and daggers. They 
fought as mounted bowmen. On the monument of 
Darius at Behistun Qakuka, 2 the leader of the Sacse, 
wears a tall pointed cap. In the army of Xerxes the 
Sacse were ranged with the Bactrians. What our 
episode tells us of the royal citadel and the cities 
built by Zarinsea does not harmonise with the nature 
of the steppe-country of the Sacse, and the statement 
of the Greeks, that the Sacae lived in variegated tents, 
and that their wealth consisted in flocks of sheep, but 
it does agree with the fact that the women went to 
battle on horseback with the men. The companions 
of Alexander describe the Sacae as strong, warlike, 
well-grown men, with flowing hair ; the Macedonians 
only came up to their shoulders. Later accounts 
speak of heavy-armed horse among them ; both horse 
and rider were covered with armour, and the weapons 
of attack were long lances. 3 From the narratives given 

1 Ctes. Fragm. 25 28, ed. Miiller; NIC. Damasc. fragm. 12 ed. Miiller. 

2 Oppert gives the form, of the second version as ^akuka Iskunka. 

3 Choerilus in Strabo, p. 303 ; Herod. 3, 93 ; 7, 64 ; 9, 71 ; Ptolem. 
6, 13; Cui-tins, 7, 4, 6; Arrian, " Anab." 3, 13; Cf. Plut. " Crassus," 24. 

VOL. v. x 


in the episodes we may retain the fact that although 
the Persians followed the lead of the Medes from 
the time of Phraortes, Cyaxares, even after the fall of 
Nineveh, did not succeed in subjugating the remain- 
ing nations of Iran without severe struggles. There 
is no reason to doubt that the Cadusians made an 
obstinate resistance, and maintained their independ- 
ence : The Parthians were able to combine with the 
Sacae in order to preserve their freedom, and did not 
become subject to Cyaxares without severe contests. 
That the Sagartians on the edge of the great desert 
(p. 6) were subject to Cyaxares, is clear from the 
inscription of Darius at Behistun. If the Medes 
had to fight with the Sacae, who were settled on the 
Oxus, Bactria must have been reduced to form a part 
of their kingdom. Beside the Hyrcanians, Parthians, 
and "other nations," the Bactrians and Sacae are 
specially mentioned as subjects of the Median kings, 1 
and Arrian assures us that the A9vakas, whom we 
found north of the Cabul on the right bank of the 
Indus (IV. 393), were subjects of the Medes. 2 

Herodotus tells us that Cyaxares was the first to 
separate the lance-bearers, archers, and horsemen, and 
combine them into divisions ; that is, he introduced a 
better and more manageable arrangement of the army. 
To the same prince, no doubt, is due the completion 
of the fortifications of Ecbatana, which we found had 
been strengthened by his predecessor Phraortes. When 
the fortifications were first begun, the place was merely 
intended as a point of defence against Assyria; but 
as soon as it became destined to aid in the mainten- 
ance of independence, it was necessary that it should 
be capable of offering refuge and support to the 
Median army, if hard pressed. The mountains of the 

1 Nicol. Damasc. fragm. 66, ed. Miiller. "Ind." 1,1. 


Zagrus form the boundary wall, and at the same time 
the line of division between the Medes and Assyrians. 
As Polybius told us (p. 268), it was an ascent of 
twelve miles i. e. four leagues to the top of the 
pass. If the Medes failed to hold these passes, and 
were then defeated in their own table-land, the moun- 
tains of the Orontes formed a new point of protection 
to their retreat. The Orontes (Old Persian, Urvanda ; 
now El vend) is a steep range of mountains, traversing 
Media from north-west to south-east ; the heights 
of the passes are given by travellers at 7000 or 
10,000 feet; Ctesias puts the ascent at twenty-five 
stades ; l recent explorers fix the time at four hours. 
On the eastern spur of this mountain wall, in a 
fertile plain, six leagues long and four leagues broad, 
lay Ecbatana, Old Persian Hangmatana, i. e. place of 
assembly, the Achmeta of the Hebrews. If the 
Orontes could not be held, the fortifications of Ecbatana 
formed a last point of protection for the Median army. 
From the Assyrians there was nothing more to be 
feared after the fall of Nineveh, but Cyaxares had 
no doubt felt, in the inundation of Media by the 
nomadic tribes of the Sacse, and then in the final 
battles against Asshur, what a support was given 
by a strong metropolis ; what good service the walls 
of Nineveh had rendered to the enemy, even in his 
decline. He saw what measures were being taken 
by Nebuchadnezzar, his step-son, to make his metro- 
polis secure, and determined that the kingdom, which 
he had so rapidly and brilliantly erected and de- 
veloped, should not be without the nucleus of an 
impregnable fortress and royal citadel. The booty in 
silver and gold, which the Medes gained in Nineveh, 
and of which we hear not in the Median poems only, 
1 Diod. 2, 13 ; 17, 110; Strabo, p. 127. 

X 2 


but also from the Hebrew prophets who lived at he 
time of the fall of the city, provided no doubt ample 
means both for the erection of the strongest works, 
and for the adornment of these as well as the citadel. 

Ctesias tells us that Semiramis built a splendid 
palace at Ecbatana, a city lying in a plain, and as 
there were no springs near, she cut through the roots 
of the range of mountains, twelve stades distant from 
the city (the Oroutes), on the farther side of which 
was a lake flowing into a river, in order to convey the 
water of the river into the city. For this object a 
tunnel was cut through the mountain, fifteen feet in 
breadth and forty feet in depth, and through it the 
river was carried into Ecbatana. 1 If Ctesias ascribes 
the palace of Ecbatana and the tunnel, like other 
monuments of Media, to Semiramis, we have already 
seen that the queen is no more than a poetical fiction ; 
nor could any of the sovereigns who ruled over Assyria 
entertain the project of building citadels and conduits 
for the Median kings. These could only be the work 
of Median princes, who resided in Ecbatana ; and as 
Phraortes could hardly have had the means and the 
time for such important structures, we must ascribe 
both the completion and adornment of the royal 
citadel, as well as the tunnel, to Cyaxares, unless we 
are to reject the latter as a pure invention, for which 
there seems to me no sufficient proof. 

" When the palace had been built at Ecbatana, it 
was surrounded with large and strong walls," Hero- 
dotus tells us, " of which one encircled another, in 
such a manner that the inner overtopped the outer by 
the height of the turret. The situation, which was 
on a hill, contributed to this result, and the natural 
elevation was artificially increased. In all there were 

1 Diod. 2, 13. 


seven circles ; the innermost contained the king's 
dwelling and treasure-house; the outermost wall was 
of about the extent of the wall of Athens. The towers 
of the first circle were white, of the second black, of the 
third red-purple, of the fourth blue-purple, of the fifth 
red ; the towers of the sixth are covered with silver ; 
and those of the seventh, which surrounds the buildings 
of the palace, with gold. The city was built round 
the outermost wall." Polybius describes the situation 
of Ecbatana and the palace as they were under the 
Achseinenids, who were wont to pass some of the hot 
summer months in the cool and fresh air of Ecbatana. 
" Ecbatana lies in the northern regions of Media, and 
commands the parts of Asia which look towards the 
Maeotis and the Euxine. The city was in old days 
the royal abode of the Median kings, and it appears 
to have far surpassed all other cities in wealth and 
in the splendour of its buildings. It is built under 
the spurs of the Orontes. Though without walls, it 
possesses a citadel built by the hand of man, of sur- 
prising strength. Below the citadel is the palace, 
which it is as difficult to speak of in detail as to pass 
over in silence. Ecbatana is an excellent theme for 
those who love to tell of marvellous things with adorn- 


ment and exaggeration ; but those who enter with 
caution on anything which goes beyond the ordinary in- 
telligence find themselves in difficulties. The circuit 
of the palace is about seven stades, and the rich orna- 
mentation of the various parts proves how flourishing 
was the condition of those who founded it. Though 


the entire wood-work consists of cedar and cypress, 
this is never allowed to appear ; on the contrary,, the 
beams of the roof and the panelling, the pillars in the 
chambers and halls, are covered with gold or silver 

1 Herod. I, 98, 99. 


plates, and the roof consists wholly of silver tiles. 
Most of these were carried off at the time of the 
expedition of Alexander, and the remainder in the 
reign of Antigonus and Seleucus-Nicanor. Neverthe- 
less the temple of Aine (i. e. of Anahita) at the time 
when Antiochus Theos (261 245 B.C.) came to Ecba- 
tana, had gilded pillars round it; and some of the 
gold plates in the side-walls were still remaining, and 
the greater part of the silver plates, while the silver 
tiles of the roof were still there in considerable quan- 
tities." J At the time of Alexander, Diodorus allows 
the city of Ecbatana a circuit of 250 stades, i. e. of 
more than 30 miles. 2 Isidore of Charax mentions the 
treasure-house at Ecbatana, the metropolis of Media 
and the shrine of Anaitis, in which sacrifice was con- 
stantly offered. 3 

It is not clear from these descriptions whether the 
fortifications at that time included the whole city or 
not. Herodotus only speaks of the fortifications of 
the citadel, and represents the city as built at the foot 
of its walls. Yet we may assume that Phraortes and 
C} T axares followed the pattern of the chief cities of 
Assyria and Babylonia in placing a strong wall round 
their city. A late and very uncertain authority, the 
book of Judith, states that the walls of Ecbatana 
consisted of splendid masonry, and reached a height 
of seventy cubits (about 110 feet) ; the towers of these 
walls were a hundred cubits in height, and there were 
gates in them. 4 When the Medes lost their empire and 
became subject to the Achoemenids, it was to their 
interest that the metropolis of the Medes should not be 
fortified, but that the citadel should be in the hands 

1 Polyb. 10, 27. 17, 110. 3 "Mans. Parth." c. 6. 

* Judith, i. 2 1. On the date of the composition of this book, cf. 
Volkmar, " Rheinisches Museum," 12, 481. In any case it dates from 
the end of the first or the second century of our reckoning. 


of a Persian garrison. Cyrus himself, therefore, after 
the conquest of Astyages, or Darius, after suppressing 
the rebellion of the Medes, may have thrown down 
the walls which surrounded Ecbatana. The silence of 
Herodotus respecting them would then be explained 
by the fact that they were no longer in existence 
in his time. The circuit of the external wall Hero- 
dotus compares with the circuit of the city of Athens, 
which, exclusive of the harbour cities but includ- 
ing the space between the Phaleric and the long 
walls, reached 60 stades, or 7|- miles. 1 If we chose 
to assume that Herodotus included the Phaleric and 
long walls in the circuit, the total extent would be 
22J- miles, an incredible length for the wall of a 
citadel. Of the outer walls of the royal citadels at 
Babylon, Diodorus puts those on the one bank of the 
Euphrates at 30 stades, and those on the other at 60, 
and of the two inner walls of the latter the first was 
40 stades in length and the second 20. 2 The circuit 
of 22J miles may, therefore, refer only to the whole 
extent of the citadel and city of Ecbatana, and it 
would then come near the statement of Diodorus, who 
puts the circuit of Ecbatana at 250 stades. 

The royal citadel of the Achsemeiiids at Persepolis 
was surrounded, according to Diodorus, with a triple 
wall ; the first wall was 16, the second 32, the third 
60 cubits in height. These walls were decorated with 
great expense, and adorned with towers. The citadel 
of Ecbatana is said to have had seven walls, and, 
however strange this may appear, religious no less 
than military motives might have led to that number. 
We know the importance ascribed in the Avesta to 
the number seven the seven supreme deities, and the 
seven girdles of the earth. On the other hand, if we 

1 Thuc. 2, 13, and the Scholia. 2 Diod. 2, 8. 


leave out of sight the hill on which the citadel was 
built, the elevated plateau of Ecbatana did not present 
the natural difficulties such as rivers and heights, 
which strengthened the fortification of the Assyrian 
metropolis and the walls of Babylon ; hence it was 
more important to meet this deficiency by the number 
of towers and walls. The successive walls would have 
been of little service had not each inner one been higher 
than the outer, and they would have been the reverse 
of serviceable, had not the distance between them been 
so great that the arrows and missiles of the enemy, 
when they had gained the outer walls, failed to reach 
from it to the next, so that the assault of the next 
wall had to be begun afresh after the capture of the 
adjacent outer wall, without any cover. If we might 
assume that the words of Polybius : " The palaces, of 
which the extent reaches to about seven stades, lie 
below the citadel," are to be interpreted as meaning 
that these buildings lay under the protection of the 
walls of the citadel, t. e. behind them and it is 
scarcely conceivable that the Achaemenids should have 
chosen an unprotected palace in Media for a constant 
residence, and deposited there large treasures, and the 
archives of the kingdom the circuit of the buildings 
of the palace and that of the external wall of 60 
stadia would give a space between the walls of each 
of about 2000 feet ; a distance not much in excess of 
that absolutely required. Hence the circuit of 60 
stadia from the outer wall does not appear too large. 

More astonishing still is the account given by 
Herodotus of the ornamentation of the turrets of these 
walls the colours of the turrets of the first five, the 
silver and gold of the two last. The attempt has 
been made to explain these statements as a legendary 
echo of the fame of the splendour of Ecbatana in 


the time of Cyaxares and his successor Astyages. 
But Polybius tells us very distinctly that the roof of 
the palace and that of the temple of Anahita consisted 
of silver tiles at the time of the Achsemenids, that 
the beams and panels of the roofs as well as the 
pillars were entirely covered with gold and silver 
plates, a ad that these decorations remained in the 
temple of Anahita at the time of Antiochus Theos. 
This ornamentation might be extended to the turrets 
of the inner walls. Considering the amount of the 
spoil of Nineveh, it cannot be regarded as an impossi- 
bility that the ramparts of the interior walls, the 
length of which, according to the statement of Poly- 
bius, did not reach more than 4200 feet, were covered 
with plates of gold, and of the next with plates of 
silver, when the roof of the palace could consist of 
silver tiles. That the overthrow of the Assyrian king- 
dom and the spoil of the cities brought considerable 
possessions to the Median nation may be concluded 
from the remark of Herodotus that the Persians had 
adopted better clothing and more luxurious habits 
from the Medes. The kings would without doubt 
receive the richest part of the spoil. The decoration 
of the turrets was possibly rude, but it exhibited in a 
striking manner the splendour and exaltation of the 
kingdom, which was thus encased in gold and silver, 
while the sovereign dwelt in gold and silver chambers. 
Such a parade of royal magnificence is not out of 
harmony with the character of the ancient East. To 
those who were not allowed to enter the wide and 
high gates of the palace, these turrets showed far 
and wide, through city and country, the splendour 
of the citadel. The colours of the five outer walls 
would be given by glazed tiles, such as those found in 


the ruins of Nineveh and Chalah, of Babylon and 
Mugheir. We may assume with certainty that Cyax- 
ares desired to give to his palace and citadel a 
splendour no less than that displayed by the palaces 
of Nineveh, or the royal citadel of Nebuchadnezzar 
in Babylon, or the golden citadel in Sardis. Religious 
conceptions may also have determined the colours of 
the decoration as well as the number of the walls. 
As Auramazda sat in pure light, on a golden throne 
on the golden Hukairya, so was the ruler on earth to 
dwell in his palace of Ecbatana in golden chambers 
surrounded by golden walls. The A vesta exhibits 
Mithra with a golden helmet and silver coat of mail, 
the wheels of his chariots are of gold, his horses are 
greys, 1 shod on the fore hoofs with gold, and on 
the hinder hoofs with silver; in like manner the 
upper turrets of the citadel must shine with silver 
and the highest with gold. We have seen that the 
metals, owing to the brilliance inherent in them, be- 
longed in the ideas of the Iranians to the good spirits. 
And as the splendour of gold and silver belonged to 
the highest gods, so must the colours of the other 
turrets have been assigned to the good spirits, to 
whose protection each separate wall was entrusted. 2 

1 Diod. 17, 71. 

8 Hence I see no reason for connecting the colours of the turrets 
with the Babylonian star-worship. The only fact in favour of this is 
the black of the second wall ; but as the highest turrets exhibited the 
two most precious metals, the others may have received the colours of 
the remaining five, over all of which Kshathra vairya presided, and in 
the order of the Avesta in which silver and copper follow gold, while 
iron and steel end the list. It can hardly be proved that Babylonian 
star-worship had a decisive influence among the Medes at the time of 
Cyaxares. Isaiah xiii. 17 might be quoted against the wealth of 
Ecbatana, but this passage only gives the idea of the writer that the 
Medes would not be bought off by Babylonian money, and abandons the 
destruction of Babylon for the sake of gold. Setting this aside, the 
episodes quoted above show that at the time of Astyages men could 


The account which Polybius gives of the structure 
of the palace, the cedar and cypress wood of which 
the door-posts, pillars, roofs, and panels in the walls 
were made, shows that wood was employed in build- 
ing in Media, which agrees with the habits of moun- 
taineers. In Teheran and Ispahan buildings of wood 
of this kind are still in use, and no doubt the 
mountain forests of northern Media provided better 
materials in ancient times than now. The noblest 
trunks and best kinds of wood were sought out for 
the royal., house. The kings of Asshur, and Nebu- 
chadnezzar tell us in their inscriptions that they have 
caused trees to be cut down on this or that mountain 
for their buildings. The wooden palace, which Deioces, 
and perhaps Phraortes, first erected, must have been 
extended by Cyaxares, and may have been furnished 
by him or his successor with the brilliant ornamenta- 
tion. The inner walls of the palace of the Achaemenids 
at Persepolis, if we may draw this conclusion from 
the metal supports which are found in the remains of 
the stone walls, were decorated in a similar manner. 
When the palace of the Median kings at Ecbataiia 
had become the summer residence and treasure-house 
of the Persian monarchs, it would, no doubt, be 
enriched and adorned yet more. The temple of 
Anahita, connected with the palace, which Polybius 
has described above, is the work of Artaxerxes II. 
Alexander caused the spoil he had taken in Babylon, 
Susa, Persepolis, and Pasargadae, to be brought to 
Ecbatana, where he is said to have collected 180,000 

regret the loss of ancient simplicity in Media, and extol it against the 
gold which had come from Nineveh to Ecbatana, and against the gold 
of Babylon (p. 301). The nation may also have remained in simple 
habits of life however brilliant the royal citadel may have been. Yet 
it has already been observed in the text that at the time of Cyaxares 
and Astyages the upper classes lived in wealth and comfort. 


talents in gold and silver. 1 At a later time, the 
Arsacids are said to have resided at Ecbatana during 
the summer like the Achaemenids. 2 At the present 
day, Hamadan, which is built high up on a slope of 
El vend, marks the site of the ancient Ecbatana. It 
contains about 40,000 inhabitants ; the ruins of the 
ancient city have not yet been satisfactorily explored. 
The slender pillars with lotus-like capitals, discovered 
here, are like the pillars of Persepolis, and therefore 
might be the work of the Achaemenids ; what has 
been discovered in engraved stones and coins comes 
from the time of the Arsacids and Sassanids. Some 
cylinders covered with cuneiform inscriptions have 
not yet been examined. 

Cyaxares had rescued Media from the most extreme 
peril. The consequences of the defeat, in which his 
father, with the greatest part of his army, fell before 
the Assyrians, had been averted. Though subse- 
quently overpowered by the Scythians, he yet became 
once more sovereign in his own country. This rise 
of Media, and the weakening of the Assyrian kingdom 
by the inundation of the Scythians, he used in order 
to subjugate Armenia and Cappadocia. And though 
he was not able to achieve anything decisive against 
the Lydians, he attained a greater success ; in com- 
bination with Babylonia he avenged on the Assyrians 
the supremacy they had exercised over Media ; he 
overthrew the remnant of that kingdom, whose tough 
vigour- showed itself even at the final hour in an 
obstinate resistance. It was a great achievement and 
at the same time an important extension of the 
Median dominions, not merely by the whole extent 
of the Assyrian country on the left bank of the Tigris, 

Diod. 17, 66, 71 ; 19, 48 ; Strabo, p. 731 ; Plut " Alex." 72. 
1 Strabo, p. 523. 


which, fell to Media, but also by the closer connec- 
tion which Cyaxares thus obtained with Armenia 
and Cappadocia, the subject lands to the west. Then 
followed the spread of the Median power over the 
kindred nations in the north and east of Iran. The 
Persians were already subjected to Phraortes, and 
Cyaxares brought under his sovereignty the Sagartians, 
Hyrcanians, Parthians, and Bactrians ; he made the 
Sacaa dependant on him, and in the east perhaps 
extended his power as far as the Indus. From his 
proud citadel at Ecbatana he ruled from the Halys 
to the Oxus. It was a powerful empire. Hero- 
dotus depicts the reign of Cyaxares when he says : 
" He was far more powerful than his predecessors." 
With the Medes he passes as the founder of their 
sovereignty ; and his reign must have been held 
in grateful remembrance, not by the Medes only, but 
also by the subject nations. Those who afterwards 
attempted to bring the Medes and Sagartians under 
arms against the dominion of the Persians, called 
themselves the descendants of Cyaxares and one 
even laid aside his own name, Phraortes, to do so. 

After the fall of Assyria the leading portion passed 
to Media, Babylonia, and Lydia. As the two first had 
united for the overthrow of Assyria, and had come to 
terms with Lydia for this object, so in other respects 
they displayed a friendly feeling towards each other. 
The daughter of Cyaxares became the consort of 
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and the daughter of 
Alyattes, king of Lydia, was married to his son 
Astyages. Afterwards, Babylon prevented the at- 
tempt of Egypt to unite Syria with the land of the 
Nile ; it was eagerly occupied with subjugating Meso- 
potamia and Syria, while Lydia established its power 
over the tribes and cities of Asia Minor as far as the 


Halys. Neither Media nor Lydia thought of put- 
ting any hindrances in the way of the extension of 
the Babylonian dominion over Syria and Phoenicia. 
Of these three kingdoms, thus connected by mutual 
alliances, Media was the strongest. Babylonia and 
Lydia were not equal either in extent of country or 
amount of population ; Lydia was perhaps inferior 
in the vigour of the ruling tribe, and Babylonia cer- 
tainly inferior in the military strength of the popu- 
lation. Even when united they did not reach the 
size or strength of the Median power, whose army 
Cyaxares had arranged, and for which he had pro- 
vided at Ecbatana a strongly fortified centre, equidis- 
tant from the Halys and the Oxus. When Astyages 
ascended the throne, on the death of his father in 
593 B.C., he entered upon the inheritance of a secure 
dominion in peaceful and friendly relations to all the 
neighbouring powers. While his father-in-law, Alyattes 
of Lydia, and his son Croesus were occupied in subju- 
gating the Carians and the Greek cities on the west 
coast of Anatolia (III. 439), and Nebuchadnezzar 
carried on one campaign after another in order to 
incorporate in his kingdom the great trading marts 
of the Syrian coasts, Astyages could enjoy, for more 
than thirty years, the fruits of the efforts by which 
his father had founded and established the Median 



THE oldest subjects in the Median kingdom were the 
Persians. Their country lay in the south-west corner 
of the table-land of Iran. The heights of the Zagrus, 
which run down to the sea in a south-easterly direc- 
tion, divide it from the ancient kingdom of Elam, 
and the land of the Tigris, just as in the north they 
divide the land of the Medes from the valley of the 
two rivers. The Eastern border of the Persian 
territory was formed, almost down to the coast, by 
the great desert, which fills the centre of Iran ; the 
northern boundary towards the land of the Medes 
is marked by the range which the Greeks call Para- 
choatras ; the name would be Kurukvathra, i. e. very 
brilliant, in Old Persian. The southern boundary of 
Persia was the sea. Nearchus, who sailed along the 
coast of Persia, gives it an extent of 4400 stades, i. e 
550 miles ; their land began at the mouth of the 
Oroatis (Old Persian, Aurvaiti, i.e. the swift), 1 the 
Tsab, which falls into the Persian Gulf below the 
modern Hindian, and reached to the east almost as 
far as the entrance into this gulf, where it ended 
opposite the island of Coloe (Kishm). 2 Euripides 

1 Burnouf, " Commentaire sur le Ya9na," p. 251. 

2 Arrian, " Ind." 3840; Strabo, p. 727, 728, 738; Plin. " H. 
N."6, 26; cf. Ptol. 6, 4, 1. 


contrasts the sun-lit mountain flats of Persia with the 
wintry land of Media and the citadels of Bactria. 1 
According to Strabo the coast of Persia was hot and 
sandy, and, with the exception of some palms, pro- 
duced no fruit. But beyond [the coast was a laud of 
very great fertility, abounding in lakes and rivers, and 
providing the most excellent pasture. Further to the 
north, the Persian land became cold and mountainous, 
and supported nothing but droves of camels and their 
keepers. Arrian tells us that to the north of the 
coast of Persia the air was temperate, and the land 
traversed by the clearest streams, in addition to which 
there were also lakes ; the meadows were grassy and 
well watered, and provided excellent pastures for 
horses and other beasts of draught. The soil produced 
all kinds of fruits and even wine, but not olives. The 
forests were extensive and rich in game, and all kinds 
of water- fowl were to be found there. But further 
to the north the land of the Persians was wintry and 
full of snow. 2 What the Greeks relate of the deso- 
lation of the Persian coast is ?till applicable; it consists 
of naked sand-flats, broken only by scanty groves of 
palms. Above this coast the soil rises in terraces, 
which are separated from each other by yet higher 
ranges. Further to the north the slopes of the moun- 
tains provide excellent pastures, till the ground be- 
comes more bare as we approach Media, while on the 
east it gradually passes into the great desert of the 
centre. On the mountain terraces and in the depres- 
sions between them are some favoured lands and valleys. 
The warmth of the southern situation is tempered by 
the elevation of the soil and the winds blowing from 
the sea. This happy climate allows a perpetual 
spring to reign, and increases the fertility which the 

1 " Bacck" 1416. Arrian, " Ind." 40. 


abundant mountain springs produce in such a degree 
that groves of orchard trees, cypresses, and myrtles 
alternate with vineyards and carpets of flowers. The 
beauty of Persia and the fertility of the vegetation is 
concentrated in the valleys of Kazerun, Shiras, and 
Merdasht, which lie in stages one above the other, 
between mountain walls which rise to a height of 
8000 feet. The most extensive and at the same time 
the highest valley is that of Merdasht. It is traversed 
by the Murghab, which brings an abundant supply 
of water from the snow-covered heights in the north- 
west. The upper course is surrounded by steep cones, 
and jagged walls of rock ; in the lower part it takes 

\f OO JL 

another name, and is called the Pulwar. Further 
down, it unites with the Kum-i-Firuz (the Araxes 
of the Greeks), and from this confluence down to the 
mouth in the great lake of Bakhtegan it is known 
as the Bendemir. The Greeks called the Pulwar the 
Medus, and the Bendemir, which is also known as 
the Kur in modern times, they named the Cyrus. 1 

According to Herodotus the Persians regarded their 
land as of moderate extent, poorly equipped, and 
filled with rocks. In the Books of the Laws which 
are ascribed to Plato, we are told that the Persian 
land is naturally adapted to produce strong shepherds, 
and as they had to watch their flocks night and day, 
they were thus in a position to do good service in war. 
As a fact Persia is a mountainous country ; the slopes 
are admirably fitted for cattle breeding, but there is 
little room or encouragement for agriculture. Accord- 
ing to Xenophon's description, the Persians in ancient 
times were much occupied in the chase, and in riding ; 
they only ate once in the day, and at their banquets 
goblets might indeed be seen, but no pitchers of wine. 
1 Spiegel, " Eran," 2, 260. 

VOL. v. 


Strabo remarks, with reference to a later period, that 
the Persian youth remained long in the open air 
with their flocks, and were eager hunters ; when 
thus engaged, their only drink was water, their food 
bread, flesh, and salt. The Greeks with one con- 
sent describe the Persians of ancient times as simple, 
hardy, self-controlled men, of great endurance and 
martial vigour, with few requirements. They were 
also called "Eaters of Terebinths," in order to mark 
the scantiness of their food : their drink was water ; 
and their clothing, coats as well as trousers, were of 
leather. 1 

The nation of the Persians consisted of various 
tribes. Herodotus gives a special prominence to 
three, on which the rest were dependent. These were 
the Pasargadae, the Maraphians, and the Maspians. 
" Other tribes are the Panthialaei, the Demisiaei, the 
Germanii, all of which are agricultural ; while the re- 
mainder, the Dai, Mardi, Dropici, and Sagartii are 
Nomads," 2 According to this statement six of the 
Persian tribes carried on agriculture, and four were 
pastoral. But the Germanians and Sagartians were 
distinguished from the tribes of the Persians in the 
narrower sense. The Sagartians (A9agarta) are spoken 
of in the inscriptions of Darius, and by Herodotus him- 
self in other passages, as a separate nation ; we have 
already found their country on the western edge of the 
great desert, and observed its character (p. 6). The 
Germanians of Herodotus are the Carmanians of the 
later Greeks, who also passed with them as a separate 
nation, though closely allied to the Persians and Medes. 8 
They wandered to and fro to the east of Persia in 

1 Herod. 9, 122, 1, 171; Nicol. Damasc. fragin. 66, ed. Muller; 
Xonophon, " Cyri instit." 6, 2, 22; 8, 8, 512; Plato, " Logg." p. 
695 ; Strabo, p. 734. 

Horod. 1, 125. Strabo, p. 727. 


the district now called Kirman. The number of the 
tribes mentioned by Herodotus would therefore have to 
be reduced to the Pasargadae, Maraphians, Maspians, 
Panthialaeans, Derusiaeans, Dai, Mardi, and Dropici, 
if we did not hear of two others in the inscriptions 
of Darius, the Yutiyas and the Patisuvaris, whose 
names were known to the later Greeks in the form 
Utei and Pateischorei. These later authorities tell us 
also of other Persian tribes : Kyrtians, Khapaesans, 
Stobaeans, Suzaeans, etc. They also reckon the 
Paraetaci, or Paraetaceni, among the Persians. 1 The 
Mardians of Herodotus are also called Amardians by 
later writers, who place them, in the West, among the 
mountains which divide Persia from Elam. 2 With 
regard to the position of the rest of the tribes, we can 
only ascertain that the Pasargadae occupied the best 
part of the Persian land the valley of the Pulwar; 
that the Maraphians 3 and the Maspians were their 
neighbours, and the land of the Pateischorei followed 
next after that of the Pasargadae on the eastern 
side, towards Carmania. Besides these three chief 
tribes, the Pasargadae, Maraphians, and Maspians, 
the Persian nation, according to these statements, 
was made up of a considerable number of more or 
less powerful tribes, of whom each one, like the 
chief tribes themselves, must have had a separate 
territory, or, at any rate, a pasture for its flocks. 

If the name Parsua could signify Persians, the in- 
scriptions of the kings of Asshur would confirm the 
division of the Persians into several tribes. Shal- 
manesar II. tells us, that in the year 833 B.C. he 
received tribute from the heads of the Parsuas, as the 

1 Above, p. 270. Strabo, p. 728, 730 ; Ptol. 6, 4. 

2 Arrian, " Ind." 40 ; Strabo, p. 727. 

8 Aeschylus speaks of a Marapbis among tbe kings of the Persians, 

Y 2 


inscription Bays : from twenty-seven princes of the 
Parsuas. Afterwards Tiglath Pilesar II. traversed the 
land of the Parsuas and imposed tribute upon them 
(744 B.C.). 1 The books of the Hebrews confirm 
Esarh addon's dominion over Persia, inasmuch as they 
tell us that he settled Persians and Dai (Dahas) in 
Samaria (III. 154). 

It must have been in the period of the supremacy 
of Assyria, at the latest in the first half of the seventh 
century B.C., that the worship of the gods, which the 
Persians shared from all antiquity with their fellow- 
tribesmen on the table-land of Iran, the worship of 
Mithra, Vayu, Anahita, and fire, underwent the change 
which bears the name of Zarathrustra. As we saw 
good reason to assume, the new doctrine first came to 
the Medes from the North-East ; from the Medes it 
passed, without doubt, to the Persians. If Herodotus 
places the Magians, or special priestly order, among 
the tribes of the Medes and not among those of the 
Persians, among whom Strabo is the first to mention 
them, the conclusion is, as has been sufficiently 
proved, not that the Persians were without priests 
before and after the reform, but rather that even after 
the reform the priestly families remained in their 
natural unions, and did not form themselves into a 
special tribe (p. 192). 

The supremacy of Assyria over the West of Iran 
came to an end when Phraortes united the tribes of 
the Medes under his leadership, and, towards the year 
640 B.C., undertook to maintain the independence of 
Media against Assurbanipal, the successor of Esar- 
haddon. In this struggle the Persians joined the 
Medes and ranged themselves under them. Herodotus, 
who obviously follows the tradition of the Medes, re- 

1 Above, p. 282. 


presents Phraortes as marching against the Persians, 
conquering and subjugating them ; according to the 
Persian account, which is preserved in Ctesias, the 
chief of the Medes induced the Persians to revolt 
against the Assyrians, and to join him, by the promise 
that they should remain free under his leadership (III. 
250). The situation of affairs agrees better with the 
second version than with the first. Considering the 
enormous power which Assyria under Assurbanipal 
possessed down to the middle of the seventh century, 
it is hardly probable that Phraortes would have in- 
augurated the recent independence of Media by an 
attack on the Persians, which might, and indeed must, 
drive them into the arms of the Assyrians. It is far 
more probable that the two nations formed a league 
against Assyria. As already observed, the annihilation 
of the kingdom of Elam, which Assurbanipal accom- 
plished in the year 645 B.C., would supply the Persians 
with a strong incentive to unite themselves with the 
kindred and more powerful nation of the Medes. 

Of the three tribes of the Pasargadae, Maraphians, 
and Maspians, the most prominent so Herodotus tells 
us are^the Pasargadae. 1 To them belongs the race 
of the Achsemenids, from which sprang the Persian 
kings. In the inscription of Behistun, King Darius 
says : " From old time we were kings ; eight of my 
family have been kings (Kshayathiya), I am the 
ninth ; from very ancient times we have been kings." 2 

1 The place has the same name as the tribe ; Pasargadae cannot 
in any case mean " Persian camp," as Anaximenes maintains in 
Stephanos. Oppert believes that he has discovered in the Pisiyauvada 
of the inscription of Behistun the original form of the name Pasar- 
gudao, which is the Greek form of the Persian word. Pisiyauvada 
(pfiisi gauvada) means " valley of springs ; " " Peuple des Medes," p. 

* So Eawlinson and Spiegel. E. Schrader translates III. of the 
Babylonian version : " From old from the fathers we were kings." 


He enumerates his ancestors : " My father was Vis- 
ta9pa, the father of Vista9pa was Arsama, the father 
of Arsama was Ariyaramna, the father of Ariyaramna 
was Khaispis, the father of Khaispls was Hakhamanis ; 
heuce we are called Hakhamanisiya (Achsemenids)." 
In these words Darius gives the tree of his own family 
up to Khaispis ; this was the younger branch of the 
Achaemenids. Teispes, the son of Achsemenes, had 
two sons ; the elder was Cambyses (Kambujiya), the 
younger Ariamnes ; the son of Cambyses was Cyrus 
(Kurus), the son of Cyrus was Cambyses II. 1 Hence 
Darius could indeed maintain, that eight princes of 
his family had preceded him ; but it was not correct 
to maintain that they had been kings before him, 
and that he was the ninth king. 2 

Abutav appears as a fact to leave no doubt about this sense. Oppert 
now translates duvitataranam (IV. of the Persian text) by twice, 
t. e. in two epochs we were kings : " Eec. of the Past," 7, 88 ; but his 
previous translation, "in two tribes" (t. e. in the older and younger 
line), we were kings, exactly corresponds to the facts. 

1 The list of the Achaemenids, which we obtain from a comparison 
of Herodotus (6, 11), and the inscription of Bohistuu 1, 3 8, is as 
follows : 

Achffimenes (Hakhamanis). 

Teispca (Khaispis). 

(Kambujiya) Cambyses. Ariamnes (Ariyaramna). 

(Kurus) Cyrus. Arsaines (Arsama). 

(Kambujiya) Cambyses. Hystaspes (Yista^pa). 

Darius (Darayavus). 

1 If Darius calls himself the ninth Achaemenid, Xerxes also in 
Herodotus enumerates nine Achromeuids as his predecessors, in which 
enumeration, it is true, Cambyses occurs but once, while Teispes is 
twice mentioned, once as the ancestor of the older lino, and then as 
the ancestor of the younger. On a broken cylinder which has just 
been brought from Babylon by Rassam, the genealogy of Cyrus is said 
to be given thus : Achiemcnes, Teispes, Cyrus, Cambyses, Cyrus, so 
the journals tell us. In this the older line has one member more as 


In this series of the ancestors of Darius we find 
names belonging not only to the East of Iran, but 
also to the Arians of India. The name Cambyses 
(Kambujiya) points to the Cambojas, a nation which 
we found in the north-west of India (IV. 249) ; the 
name Cyrus (Kurus) to the ancestors of the ancient 
princely race who founded the first great empire in the 
land of the Ganges on the upper course of the river, 
whose contest with and overthrow by the Pandus is 
celebrated by the Indian epic, while the name Vistagpa 
repeats the name of the King of Bactria, whom the 
prayers of the Avesta extol as the protector of Zara- 
thrustra (p. 132). Of Achaemenes we are told that 
an eagle nourished him ; 1 a prophet of the Hebrews 
calls Cyrus "the eagle;" we know the importance 
which the Avesta ascribes to the two eagles of the 
sky, and the modern Persian epic to Simurgh ; and we 
have seen that the standard of the Achsemeiiids was 
an eagle (p. 173). Hence from this notice we may 
with certainty conclude that the tradition of the 
Persians ascribed to this ancestor of their kings a 
youth distinguished by the favour of heaven. 

As Cambyses the father of Cyrus is a contemporary 
of Astyages of Media, Teispes the father of Cambyses 
must be reckoned a contemporary of Cyaxares, and 
Achaemenes, the father of Teispes, as a contemporary 
of Phraortes. 2 We must therefore assume either 
that Achsemenes was at the head of the Persians, at 
the time when they joined Media, or that he was 

against the younger. Till the cylinder is published wo must keep to 
the inscription of Behistun and Herodotus. 

1 Aelian, "Hist. Anim." 12, 21. 

2 Cyrus is said to have been forty years old in 558 B.C., so that ho 
must have been born in 598 B.C., from, which it follows that his father 
Cambyses was born in 620 at the latest. Astyages was married in G10, 
and must therefore have been born about 630 B.C. 


established by Phraortes as the chief of Persia and 
his vassal-king, and that his throne passed with the 
duties of vassalage to his descendants Teispes and 
Cambyses. It is not very probable that the traditions 
of the Persians should have accorded signs of divine 
favour to the youth of a man, who had been placed 
over them after their subjugation as viceroy of Media. 
Moreover, we find among the Persians, according to 
this tradition, a form of constitution, such as a Median 
viceroy would hardly have established, even for 
the object of overthrowing the Median power. The 
race of the Achasmenids belonged to the tribe of 
the Pasargadae ; we may therefore assume that 
Achaemenes was the first to become chief of this tribe. 
Aeschylus enumerates the seven men who stand at 
the side of the king of the Persians. 1 Josephus says 
that the " seven houses " of the Persians had named 
Darius as king. As a fact we see that when Darius, 
after the extinction of the older line of the descend- 
ants of Achaamenes, sets himself to ascend the throne, 
six men stand at his side, whom Herodotus dis- 
tinguishes as the " first of the Persians." The Laws 
ascribed to Plato say that the empire was then 
divided into seven parts between Darius and the Six, 
and that a relic of this division was still in existence. 2 
In regard to the privileges of the Six and their 
descendants we find that they consisted in the right 
of free access to the king, and that the king could 
choose his chief wife only from their families ; 3 the 
descendants of the Six had also the right to wear the 
head-dress of the king, the upright kidaris, which was 
the symbol of royal dignity. In the kingdom of the 

1 "Persae,"956 960. 

* Joseph. " Antiq." 11, 2 ; Herod. 3, 77 ; Plat. " Legg." p. 695. 

Herod. 3, 84. 


Sassanids, we find seven hereditary princes under the 
king ; these princes, like the king, wear crowns, but 
their crowns are lower than that of the king; the "sons 
of the houses," *. e. the members of these seven families, 
form the highest rank of the nobility. Hence in these 
six chieftains of the Persians standing at the side of and 
beneath the seventh, who is the prince of the Pasar- 
gadae, we may suppose that we have the princes of the 
remaining tribes. 1 And in respect of the privileges 

1 This highest rank of nobility is called waspur in Pehlevi, and bar 
lithan is Aramaic^., The book of Esther mentions the seven princes of 
the Persians and Medes, " who may behold the countenance of the 
king and have the first place in the kingdom," i. 14. The names of the 
six who aided Darius in slaying Gaumata, as given in Herodotus, agree 
with the inscription of Behistun, with the exception of one name. 
Herodotus gives Aspathines for the Ardumanis of Darius. The list of 
Ctesias is wholly different. If we examine them more closely we find 
that Ctesias has given the names of the sons of the comrades of Darius 
for the comrades themselves. Instead of Gobryas he puts Mardonius 
the son of Gobryas, instead of Otanes Anaphes (so we must read the 
name Onophes) ; Anaphes, according to Herod. 7, 62, is the son of 
Otanes. The name Hydarnes agrees with the inscription and with 
Herodotus, but the son of Hydarnes had the same name as his father 
(Herod. 7, 83, 211). The Barisses of Ctesias must be the eldest son of 
Intaphernes whom Darius allowed to live ; he was called after his 
grandfather, Vaya9para, as was often the case with the Persians. The 
Ariarathes, who afterwards governed Cappadocia, claimed to have 
sprung from Anaphes, whom Darius made satrap or king of Cappa- 
docia. Anaphes was succeeded by a son of the same name ; after him 
came Datames, Ariamnes, Ariarathes I., who governed Cappadocia at 
the time of Artaxerxes Ochus ; his son Ariathes II. crucified Perdiccas 
in the year 322 B.C. when he had conquered him, though an old man 
of 82 years ; Droysen, " Hellenismus," 2 2 , 95. The Norondobates in 
Ctesias I cannot explain, unless we ought to read Rhodobates. Mithri- 
dates, who in Xenophon's time had been governor of Lycaonia from 
about 420 B.C., is called a son of Rhodobates (Diog. Laert. 3, 25), and 
his father and grandfather are said to have been viceroys of Pontus. 
The ancestor would be one of the seven, to whom the kingdom of 
Pontus was given for his services ; Polyb. 5, 43. Mithridates Eupator 
calls himself the sixteenth after Darius ; Appian, " Bell. Mith." c. 
112; cf. Justin, 38, 7. These quotations will be sufficient to show 
that the rank of the six tribal princes of the Persians, like that of the 
chief princes, was originally hereditary, as the governorships left to 
their descendants outside Persia must have remained in their families. 


of the six co-chieftains in the kingdom of the Achae- 
menids we may assume that they originally occupied 
a position close to the king, and formed the council 
and court of the chief tribal prince. These privileges 
the Greeks ascribe to the services which the Six 
rendered at the time when Darius ascended the 
throne. But as the seven houses existed before, and 
the Six had previously been " the first of the Persians," 
their privileged position must have been of an older 
date ; it must have been introduced by Cyrus or be 
of even more remote origin. It is not probable that 
such a mighty warrior prince as Cyrus would, after 
the reduction of the Medes, impose limitations on his 
power by sharing the symbols of royalty and here- 
ditary privileges. According to the narrative of Hero- 
dotus, Cyrus does not simply command the Persians 
to take up arms against the Medes, but he assembles 
the tribes, and ascertains their feeling. In consider- 
ing the peculiar position of these six families we may 
certainly assume, that under the ancestors of Cyrus 
there were chiefs among the Persians with whom 
the Achaemenids had to deal If the Achsemenids 
were the heads of the tribe of the Pasargadae, the 
other tribes would have chiefs also. Yet we only 
hear of "six princes" besides the Achsemenids, 
though we have seen that the number of the Persian 
tribes was considerably more than seven. 

Following the indications thus given, we may 
sketch the course of events as follows. When 
Achaemenes had acquired the headship of the tribe 
of the Pasargadae, he must have combined the two 
neighbouring tribes, the Maraphians and Maspians, 
whom Herodotus classes with the Pasargadae as the 
most important among the Persians, into closer 
union, perhaps by some understanding with the 


chiefs. Supported by these three tribes, who possessed 
the favoured regions of Kazerun, Shiras, and Mer- 
dasht, Achaemenes must then have subjugated the 
remainder to his power. Herodotus told us above 
that the remaining tribes depended on the three 
mentioned. They must, therefore, have been com- 
bined into larger groups, and in fact into four 
communities. To the chiefs who became the heads 
of these new combinations, a position must have been 
accorded similar to that enjoyed by the Maraphians 
and Maspians beside Achaemenes above all, the right 
to bequeath the chieftainship to their descendants. 
When the chiefs of the Persians, now seven in number, 
mutually guaranteed to each other their position, 
the foundation was laid of a community of interests, 
and thus of a community of the Persian nation. 
That the princes of the four new combinations of 
tribes belonged to those tribes, and not to the three 
first, is proved by the inscription of Darius at Naksh- 
i-Rustem, where one of the princes of the date of 
Darius is called a Pateischorean. In some such way 
as this Achaemenes may have brought about the 
union of the Persian tribes, and at the same time 
have obtained the leadership of them. His position 
thus rested essentially on the relation of the prince 
of the Pasargadae to the other six tribal princes, a 
relation of which we find no trace in the Medes. 
That the number seven was normal for the com- 
binations of the tribes we may ascribe to the influence 
of the recently-introduced doctrine of Zarathrustra, 
of which we found echoes in the legend of Achsemenes. 
Achaemenes and his race after him must have had 
their dwelling in the canton of the tribe to which 
they belonged, at the place of assembly of the Pasar- 
gadae, the chief town, which bore the name of the 


tribe. Supported by this tribe, Achsemenes succeeded 
in uniting the people ; on it and the neighbouring 
Marapheans and Maspians depended the importance 
of the AchaBmenids. Strabo calls Pasargadae the 
ancient seat, and with Persepolis the patriarchal 
abode of the Persian kings, 1 and here, on ascending 
the throne, they were consecrated. Here Cyrus de- 
posited his treasures ; here he found his last resting- 
place. We must look for this place in " Hollow 
Persia," as the Greeks call it, on the plain of Merdasht, 
to the east of the later Istakhr, the city of the Sas- 
sanids, below the confluence of the Medus and Cyrus 
(i. e. the Pulwar and Kum-i-Firuz) in the land of 
the Bendemir. 2 

When Achaemenes had united the tribes of the 
Persians by means of the new hereditary chieftain- 
ships, and got into his hands the supreme power with 

1 p. 728, 729. 

3 Strabo, p. 729, puts Pasargadae on the Cyrus. Stephanus (na<r<rap- 
yaScu) following Anaximenes of Lampsacus, represents Pasargadae as 
first built by Cyrus ; so Curt. 5, 1 1 : Cyrus Pasargadum urbem con- 
diderat. It cannot be doubted that Cyrus built there, and Alexander, 
according to Arrian (3, 18), found there the treasures of Cyrus. Strabo 
also tells us that Cyrus built the city and citadel, p. 730. From the 
accounts of the march of Alexander from Persepolis to Pasargadae, 
and from his return from the Indus to Pasargadae and Persepolis, it 
is clear that Pasargadae lay to the east or south-east of Persepolis. If 
Pasargadae is placed at Murghab, the only reason is the statement 
that the grave of Cyrus was at Pasargadae, and this grave has been 
identified with the pyramid of Murghab, in the immediate proximity 
of which a relief exhibits the picture of Cyrus. But the portrait of 
Cyrus there is very different from the portrait of Darius and his 
successors on the tombs at Rachmed, and Nuksh-i-Rustem ; and the 
building at Murghab may have served another purpose. According to 
Pliny ("H. N." 6, 26, 29) we ought to look for Pasargadae to the 
south of Lake Bakhtegan, near Fasa, or Darabgerd ; flumen Sitio- 
ganus, quo Pasargadas septimo die navigatur. Sitioganus is the 
modern Sitaragan. Ptolemy puts Pasargadae in the neighbourhood of 
Caramania, and Opport therefore identifies it with the ruins of Tell-i- 
Zohak near Fasa, and looks for the mountain Paraga of the inscrip- 
tions in the modern Forg : " Journal Asiat." 1872, p. 549. 


the co-operation of the six princes in council and 
jurisdiction, he joined the king of the Medes, who 
had also united the tribes of his people, soon after the 
year 645 B.C., as we were compelled to assume, for 
common defence against Assyria. Being weaker than 
the Median king, he ranged himself under his leader- 
ship and power, agreed to follow him in war, and 
accepted the position of his general and vassal. The 
relation must have been similar to that which Firdusi 
represents as existing between his kings and the 
princes of Sejestan (p. 252). In this combination the 
Persians shared the dangers of the war against king 
Assurbanipal, and the defeat of Phraortes, no less 
than the defeat of Cyaxares by the Scythians ; on the 
other hand, they were the comrades of Cyaxares in his 
struggles against the Lydians, and in his victory over 
Assyria, while they took an active part in the annihil- 
ation of Nineveh. At the same time we may assume 
that this dependent position became more strongly 
marked as the power of Media increased, and we may 
believe Herodotus that their soldiers joined in sub- 
jugating the other tribes of the table-land of Iran, and 
marched with the armies of the Medes to the wars 
which Cyaxares carried on in the East. The episode 
of Parsondes exhibits a Persian at the court, in the 
council, and in the army of the Median king ; and 
the position of the Persians under the successors of 
Achaemenes, Teispes, and Cambyses, must have closely 
resembled the position of the other nations subject 
to the Median power. Cyaxares and his successor 
Astyages would have regarded Teispes and Cambyses 
merely as their viceroys over Persia, though they did 
not disturb the succession in the tribe of Achaemenes. 
If Darius still calls all his ancestors kings, and extends 
this title to his father, grandfather, and great-grand- 


father, who were not viceroys, that is merely the 
custom and view of the East ; even under the great 
king, the King of kings, a vassal is still a king. The 
hereditary viceroys of Persia under the Arsacids, one 
and all, put the title " king " on their coins. When 
Papek, and Ardeshir after him, had taken their place, 
they call themselves kings ; Ardeshir, the founder of 
the dominion of the Sassanids, designates himself as 
" king," " king of the divine stock," even before he 
has overthrown his own king, Artabanus, the Arsacid. 
As the youth of Achremenes is ennobled in the 
older tradition, so later legends surrounded the life of 
the progenitor of the Sassanids with premonitory 



" CYAXARES was succeeded by his son Astyages on 
the throne of the Medes" such is the narrative of 
Herodotus " and the latter had a daughter named 
Mandane. Once he saw his daughter in a dream, and 
water came from her in such quantities that all Asia 
was inundated. This vision Astyages laid before the 
interpreters of dreams, among the Magians, and their 
interpretation alarmed him. To guard against the 
event portended, he gave his daughter, who was 
already of marriageable age, to none of the Medes 
of suitable rank, but to a Persian of the name of 
Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, who was of a good 
family, but quiet in disposition ; he regarded him as 
of less account than a Mede of the middle class. 
Mandane had not been married a year when Astyages 
had a second vision ; from his daughter's womb there 
grew up a vine- tree which overshadowed all Asia. 
This dream also he laid before the interpreters, and 
caused his daughter, who was with child, to be brought 
from the land of the Persians and be kept under 
watch ; his intention was to kill the child, which, as 
the Magians said, was destined to reign in his place. 
When Mandane bore a son, Astyages sent for Harpagus, 
a man akin to the royal household, 1 the most faithful 

1 Herod. 1, 98, 99. 


of his servants, in whose care he trusted on all occa- 
sions, and bade him take Mandane's child to his house 
and there kill it, and bury it, in whatever way he 
chose. When the boy was given to him, dressed as if 
for a funeral, Harpagus went in tears to his house, 
told his wife the orders of Astyages, and declared that 
he would not be the perpetrator of this murder even 
though Astyages should lose his reason more utterly 
than at present, and fall into worse madness : ' the 
child is akin to me; Astyages is old and without male 
heirs, if the throne passes to the daughter, whose 
child he is now putting to death by my hands, 
I shall find myself in the greatest danger. Inas- 
much as my present safety demands it the child must 
die. But the murder must be done by one of the 
people of Astyages, not by any one of mine.' With- 
out delay he sent a messenger to one of the cowherds 
of the king, Mithradates by name, whose pastures 
lay on mountains to the north of Ecbataua, where 
wild beasts are numerous. When the herdman came 
he found the whole house of Harpagus filled with 
lamentation, and saw a struggling and screaming 
child adorned with gold and variegated robes, and 
Harpagus said to him : ' Astyages commands you 
to expose this child on the most desolate moun- 
tains, in order that it may die as quickly as pos- 
sible.' The herdman believed that the child belonged 
to one of the household of Harpagus, and took it, but 
from the servant who accompanied him out of the 
city he ascertained that it was the child of Mandane 
and Cambyses. Returning to his hut, he found that 
his wife Spako (the Medes call a dog Spako) had just 
brought forth a dead child, and when she saw the well- 
grown and beautiful child which her husband showed 
her, she clasped his knees in tears, and entreated him 


not to expose it, but to take away her dead child in 
its place, and bring it up as her own son : 1 Thus doing 
you will not be guilty of wrong towards your master ; 
the dead child will receive a splendid funeral, and the 
other will not lose his life. The herdman took his 
wife's advice, and did as she bade him. He placed his 
own dead child in the basket, put on him all the 
ornaments of the other, and placed him on the wildest 
mountain. Three days after he told Harpagus that 
he was ready to show him the corpse of the child. 
Harpagus sent the most trustworthy of his bodyguard, 
and buried the herdman's child. But the herdman's 
wife brought up the other child, and gave him some 
other name than Cyrus, by which he was afterwards 
called. When he was ten years old an incident 
happened which caused him to be known. He was 
playing with his comrades, in the village in which the 
herdman lived, in the street, and his playfellows had 
chosen him whom they considered the herdman's son 
to be king. He assigned to every one his work, and 
bade one build houses, and another to be a lance- 
bearer ; one he made ' the king's eye/ and another 
' the bearer of his messages.' Among the boys who 
were playing with him was the son of Artembares, a 
man of high rank in Media. This boy failed to do 
what Cyrus ordered ; and Cyrus bade the others take 
him, and whipped him severely. The boy hastened to 
the city and complained to his father of the treatment 
he had received from the son of the cowherd. His 
father took him to the king and showed his son's 
shoulders, and said : ' This insult we have received 
from thy servant, the son of the cowherd.' Astyages 
summoned Mithradates and his son. When Astyages 

1 Herod. 1, 112, iftarorarovf rwv Sopvfopuv, while in the recapitula- 
tion, 1, 117, we have iriororaTOvc rHiv ivvov\<>>v. 

VOL. V. Z 


asked the latter how he dared so to insult the son of 
a man in such high favour with the king as Artem- 
bares, the lad maintained that he was right in acting 
as he did, but if he was to blame he was ready to 
bear the penalty. Astyages was surprised by the 
likeness of the boy to his own family, and the freedom 
of his reply. After applying the torture to Mithra- 
dates, he soon discovered the truth. He was more 
enraged at Harpagus than at Mithradates, but con- 
cealed his resentment. When Harpagus at his request 
had acknowledged what he had done, Astyages said : 
1 The boy was alive, and all that had been done was 
well. Let Harpagus send his own son to join the 
new-comer, and also come himself to the banquet.' As 
soon as the son of Harpagus, a boy of thirteen years, 
was in the palace, Astyages caused him to be slain, 
and the dismembered limbs were boiled and roasted, 
while the head, hands, and feet, were put in a covered 
basket. At the banquet Harpagus was served with 
the flesh of his own son, while the other guests ate 
the flesh of sheep. When Harpagus had eaten, 
Astyages inquired whether he had enjoyed the meal, 
and when he replied that he had enjoyed it greatly, 
the servants of the king brought him the basket, bade 
him uncover it and take what he would. Harpagus 
controlled himself, and said that whatever the king 
did was best. Then Astyages took counsel with the 
Magians who had interpreted the dreams : they were 
to consider everything, and give him the advice best 
for himself and his house. The Magians declared that 
they had it much at heart that the dominion of Asty- 
ages should continue ; for if the throne passed to the 
boy who was a Persian, the Medes would be governed 
by others, ' but if thou remainest king we are rulers in 
our degree, and have great honour from thee.' But as 


the boy had already been king in the game, the dream 
was fulfilled ; the king might send him back to Persia 
to his parents. Astyages did so. When Cyrus came 
to the house of Cambyses, his parents received him 
with great joy, when they found who he was, since 
they believed that he was already dead, and desired 
to know how he had been preserved. He told them 
that he had been supposed to be the son of the 
cowherd, but on the way he had ascertained every- 
thing from the convoy which Astyages had sent with 
him. He related how the wife of the herdman had 
brought him up, and praised her much, and Spako 
(the dog) was always on his lips. His parents seized 
on the name in order that the preservation of the 
boy might appear to be the work of the gods, and 
laid the foundation for the legend that a dog had 
suckled Cyrus when exposed." 

" When Cyrus came to manhood and was the 
bravest and best-beloved of his comrades, Harpagus 
sought to win him by presents with a view to venge- 
ance on Astyages, for he regarded the injury done to 
Cyrus as no less than that done to himself. He 
had already prepared his revenge. As Astyages was 
severe towards the Medes, he had secretly persuaded 
the chief men among them, one by one, that an end 
must be put to the rule of Astyages, and that Cyrus 
must be raised to the throne. When this was done 
and all was ready, he wished to discover his views to 
Cyrus, who was then in Persia. As the roads were 
guarded, he invented the following stratagem : he 
prepared a hare by cutting open the belly without 
further injury to the skin, inserted a letter, and then 
again closed the opening. This hare he gave with 
some nets to the most faithful of his slaves, and sent 
him, as though he were a hunter, to Persia, with a 

z 2 


command to take the hare to Cyrus, and at the same 
time to tell him that he must open it himself and 
let no one be present at the time. Cyrus opened the 
hare, and found written : ' Son of Cambyses, the gods 
regard thee with favour, or thou hadst not attained to 
such good fortune. Avenge thy death on Astyages, 
for dead thou art in his intention ; it is through the 
gods and me that thou livest. Long ago thou hast 
learnt all that befell thee, and what I have suffered at 
the hands of the king because I did not slay thee, but 
gave thee to the cowherd. If thou wilt follow my 
counsel, thou shalt rule over all the land over which 
Astyages was ruler. Persuade the Persians to revolt, 
and march against Media, and if I or any other chief 
man among the Medes is appointed by Astyages to 
lead the army against thee, all will be as thou wilt. 
They will revolt from the king, and by passing over 
to thee attempt to dethrone him. All is ready here ; 
act therefore, and act quickly.' 

" Cyrus considered in what way he could best 
persuade the Persians to revolt, and when he dis- 
covered what he believed to be the best plan, he 
wrote down his intentions in a letter and summoned 
an assembly of the Persians. In their presence he 
opened the letter, and read out, that Astyages had 
appointed him general of the Persians ; then he 
added : ' I command that every one of you appear with 
a sickle.' And when they were all assembled, furnished 
with sickles, Cyrus bade them clear a bushy tract of 
land about twenty stades in length and breadth, and 
make it fit for cultivation in a single day. When 
they had done this, he bade them assemble on the 
next day ; every one was to come bathed. Then he 
caused all the goats, sheep, and oxen of his father to 
be got together, slaughtered and dressed, and prepared 


in addition wine and other excellent food, and enter- 
tained the whole of the Persians in a meadow ; after 
the meal he asked them which they preferred, the 
entertainment of that day, or the work of the day 
before ? They replied that the difference was great : 
yesterday they had nothing that was good, to-day 
nothing that was bad. Cyrus took up this reply, and 
discovered his aims, saying : ' Persians, thus it is 
with you. If ye will follow me, ye shall have these 
blessings and many others, without any service ; if 
ye will not, ye will have troubles without number 
like those of yesterday. Follow me, and ye will be 
free. I believe that I was born by the favour of 
heaven to take this work in hand, and I do not count 
you as less than the Medes, in war or any other 
service. Since this is so, revolt at once from Astyages.' 
The Persians were quite ready to liberate themselves ; 
they only required a leader, and had long borne the 
yoke of the Medes with dissatisfaction." 

" When Astyages found what Cyrus had done, he 
summoned him into his presence by a messenger. 
Cyrus bade the messenger reply that he would come 
before Astyages wished. Then the king armed all the 
Medes, and, as though blinded by the gods, he named 
Harpagus as general, entirely forgetting the injury he 
had done to him. When the Medes and Persians 
met, some of the Medes, who were not in the con- 
spiracy fought, but the greater part made no resistance 
and fled. Thus the Median army was shamefully 
put to rout. But Astyages threatened Cyrus and 
said, that even so he should not accomplish his 
purpose. The interpreters of dreams among the 
magicians who had advised him to let Cyrus go he 
impaled, and then armed all who had remained in the 
city, young and old, and led them out. He was 


defeated, lost those whom he commanded, and was 
himself taken captive. Harpagus spoke harsh words 
to him, and asked how he liked slavery instead of 
monarchy with reference to that banquet. Astyages 
replied by asking, whether the insurrection was his 
own work or that of Cyrus. Harpagus answered that 
he had written the letter, and the insurrection was 
therefore his doing. Then Astyages said that he was 
the most foolish and unjust of men ; the most foolish 
because when he might have been king, if what had 
been done had been his doing, he had given up his 
power to another ; the most unjust because in revenge 
for that banquet he had brought the Medes into 
slavery ; if the throne must pass to another it would 
be more just that it should go to a Mede than a 
Persian, but now the innocent Medes were slaves 
instead of masters, and the Persians, who had previ- 
ously been the servants of the Medes, were their 
masters. Thus Astyages lost the throne, after a reign 
of thirty-five years, and in consequence of his cruelty 
the Medes became subject to the Persians. Cyrus 
did no injury to Astyages, but kept him with him till 
his death." 

In the Persian history of Ctesias the narrative of 
the fall of Astyages occupied more than one book. 
But we only know that it contradicted the story of 
Herodotus, that the daughter of Astyages was not 
called Mandane but Amytis, that she was married to 
the Median Spitamas, not to the Persian Cambyses, 
and that it was not the Median Harpagus but the 
Persian Oebares who was Cyrus' counsellor. 1 The 
loss of these books of Ctesias is compensated by a 
fragment of Nicolaus of Damascus, which seems to 
give the narrative in a compressed form. It is only 
1 Ctesias, " Fragm. Pers." 2, 5. 


in a few unimportant points at the close that the 
fragment differs from the excerpt of Ctesias which has 
come down to us. 

" Astyages," so we are told in Nicolaus, " was the 
noblest king of the Medes after Arbaces. In his reign 
occurred the great revolution by which the dominion 
passed from the Medes to the Persians ; and the cause 
was as follows : It was a law among the Medes that 
a poor man who went to a rich man to gain a liveli- 
hood, and gave himself up to him, should be fed and 
clothed and kept as a slave ; if the rich man did not 
do his duty in this respect, the poor man might go on 
to another. In this way a boy named Cyrus, a Mardian 
by birth, came to the servant of the king who was 
placed over the sweepers of the palace. He was the 
son of Atradates, whose poverty forced him to live by 
plunder, and Argoste his mother lived by keeping 
goats. He gave himself up to the servant for bread, 
and assisted in cleaning the palace, and as he was 
industrious the overseer gave him better clothing, and 
brought him from among those who swept outside to 
those who cleaned the interior, and put him under their 
overseer. This man was severe, and often whipped 
Cyrus. Cyrus left him, and went to the lighter of the 
lamps, who showed him kindness, and brought him 
nearer to the king by placing him among those who 
bore the lights. As Cyrus distinguished himself there 
also, he came to Artembares, the chief butler, who 
gave the king his wine. He gladly received Cyrus, 
and allowed him to wait on those who ate at the 
king's table. Ere long Astyages remarked how deftly 
Cyrus waited, and with what a stately air he handed 
the goblets, and asked Artembares whence the youth 
came who waited so well. * king,' he replied, ' he 
is thy slave, a Persian by race, of the tribe of the 


Mardians, who has given himself over to me in order to 
gain a livelihood.' Artembares was old, and once, 
when suffering from a fever, he entreated the king to 
be allowed to remain at home till he was cured ; ' in 
my place the youth, whom thou didst praise, will 
hand the wine, and if he find favour in thy eyes as 
cupbearer, then will I, a eunuch, adopt him as my 
son/ A sty ages consented, and Artembares gave much 
advice to Cyrus, as if to his own son. Cyrus now 
stood at the side of the king, and served him by 
day and by night, and showed much good sense and 
skill. And Astyages allowed him as the son of 
Artembares to receive his income, and gave him many 
gifts in addition, and Cyrus became great, and his 
name was heard everywhere." 

" Astyages had a very noble and beautiful daughter, 
whom he gave to Spitamas the Mede, adding the 
whole of Media as a dowry. Then Cyrus caused his 
father and mother to come from the land of the 
Medians, and they rejoiced at the greatness of their 
son, and his mother told him the dream which she 
had while he was yet an unborn child. She had 
fallen asleep in the sanctuary when tending her goats, 
and in her dream water flowed from her in such 
quantities that it became a great stream, and inun- 
dated all Asia, and flowed down to the sea. When 
the father heard this, he ordered the dream to be laid 
before the Chaldaeans in Babylon. Cyrus sent for the 
most skilful of them and laid the dream before him. 
He declared that the dream portended great good 
fortune for Cyrus, and the highest place in Asia ; 
Astyages was to know nothing of it, ' otherwise he 
will put you to death in some shameful manner, and 
me also,' the Babylonian said. They mutually swore 
to impart to no one this great and unparalleled 


vision. Cyrus afterwards came to yet greater hon- 
ours, and made his father satrap of Persia, and his 
mother one of the first among the women in Persia 
in wealth and position." 

"The Cadusians were at enmity with Astyages. 
Their leader was Onaphernes, who was a traitor to his 
people in the interests of Astyages, and he despatched 
a messenger saying, that he must send a trusty person 
with whom to confer about the surrender. Astyages 
sent Cyrus to arrange everything with Onaphernes, 
bidding him be back again in Ecbatana on the fortieth 
day. The interpreter of dreams urged Cyrus to go to 
the Cadusians, and filled him with confidence. Cyrus, 
who was of a noble and ambitious nature, intended, 
with the help of heaven, to bring the Persians to 
revolt, to attempt the overthrow of Astyages, and 
place confidence in the Babylonian, who was better 
acquainted than others with the will of heaven. They 
consulted with each other ; the Babylonian told 
Cyrus that it was destined that he should overthrow 
Astyages and his dominion, he knew this for certain; 
and Cyrus promised the Babylonian that if this turned 
out to be true and he became king, he would make him 
a great reward. Cyrus remembered how Arbaces had 
previously overthrown Sardanapalus, and obtained his 
dominion, and yet the Medes, by whom he was sup- 
ported, were not stronger than the Persians. Arbaces 
was not stronger than himself, and to him, as to 
the other, his fortune had been foretold. With such 
thoughts Cyrus passed the boundaries of the land of 
the Cadusians. Here he was met by a man who had 
been whipped, and carried dung in a basket. Cyrus 
took this for a sign, and inquired of the Babylonian, 
who told him to ask the man who he was and whence 
he came. The man replied that he was a Persian of 


the name of Oebares. Then Cyrus was greatly 
pleased ; for Oebares signifies one who brings good 
news. And the Babylonian told Cyrus that the other 
signs were most favourable both that he was a 
countryman of Cyrus, and that he was carrying horse- 
dung, which portended dominion and power. Cyrus 
without delay took the man with him." 

" Then he came to Onaphernes, and when the 
treachery had been arranged by mutual concessions, 
he set out on the way back to Persia. He had given 
Oebares a horse and Persian clothing, and being con- 
vinced of his friendly disposition he often conversed 
with him. Once he said : ' How hard it is to see the 
Persians ill-treated by the Medes, and yet they are as 
good as they!' '0 Cyrus,' replied the other, 'there 
is no great-hearted, high-minded man, to put an 
end to the dominion of the Medes over better men 
than themselves.' ' Why should there not be such 
a man ? ' asked Cyrus. ' Perhaps there is such an 
one,' Oebares replied, 'but want of courage does not 
allow him to do it, though he could.' Cyrus pushed 
his questions further : ' If such a venturesome man 
should appear, how might he accomplish his aim ? ' 
' The first step,' Oebares answered, ' would be to unite 
with the Cadusians, who would be willing to join him, 
for they love the Persians, and hate the Medes ; then 
he must rouse the Persians, who are about 40,000 in 
number, and arm them ; their treatment by the Medes 
will prepare them for this. Their land also is most 
suitable, being full of mountains and rocks, and even 
if the Medes should invade it, they will be driven 
back with loss/ Then Cyrus asked : ' Suppose that 
this man should appear, would you join in the danger 
with him?' Oebares replied: 'Most readily, if you 
were the man to take the matter in hand ; your father 


is the ruler of Persia, so that you have the best place 
of refuge, and are the strongest. If not you, who is 
it to be ? ' As Cyrus saw from this that Oebares was 
a cautious and brave man, who placed all his hopes in 
him, he revealed his plan and consulted him. Oebares 
encouraged him, and gave him good counsel to guide 
him. He urged Cyrus to send to his father Atradates 
and entreat him to arm the Persians, apparently to aid 
the king against the Cadusians, but in truth to revolt 
against Astyages ; then he must ask Astyages for 
permission to visit Persia for some days, in order to 
offer the sacrifice which he had vowed for the safety 
of the king, and at the same time for his father 
who was sick. If he obtained his request he must set 
manfully to work ; when a man ventures in a great 
enterprise it is no hardship to venture his life, and if 
need be to lose it, for this happens even to those who 
do nothing. Cyrus was pleased at the man's resolute 
frame of mind, and now told him his mother's dream 
and the interpretation of the Babylonian. Oebares 
then inflamed his spirit yet more, but cunning as he 
was, he bade him take care that the Babylonian did 
not tell the drea/n to the king 'if you will not 
permit his death, which would be the safest thing.' 
' That be far from me/ said Cyrus. Filled with alarm 
that the Babylonian would betray the dream to 
Astyages, Oebares gave out that according to ancestral 
custom he would offer sacrifice to the goddess of the 
moon at night, and obtained of Cyrus all that he 
required for the purpose incense, wine, and pillows 
and arranged that Cyrus should take no part in the 
sacrifice. In his tent he dug a deep trench, put thick 
pillows over it, and invited the Babylonian to a 
banquet, and made him intoxicated. When he sank 
down on the pillows, he threw him into the trench, 


and his servants with him. In the morning, Ocbares 
went quietly on with Cyrus, who soon inquired for 
the Babylonian. Oebares acknowledged what he had 
done ; he could find no other way of escape for Cyrus 
and his children. Cyrus was deeply distressed, and 
even more angry, and would not see Oebares any more, 
but at length he again placed his confidence in him." 

" When Cyrus was again with Astyages, Oebares 
reminded him of his advice. Cyrus followed it, sent 
to Persia, and when he found that all was ready, asked 
Astyages, under the pretext that Oebares had sug- 
gested, for permission to go to Persia. The king would 
not let him go. Then Cyrus betook himself to the 
most trusty of the eunuchs ; when a favourable 
moment came, he was to obtain permission for the 
journey to Persia. One day when Cyrus found the 
king in the best of humours and cheered with wine, 
he gave the eunuch a sign, and the latter said to the 
king : ' Cyrus asks to perform the sacrifice, which 
he has vowed for thee in Persia, that thou mightest 
continue gracious to him, and for permission to visit 
his sick father.' The king called for Cyrus, and with 
a smile, gave him permission of absence for five 
months ; in the sixth month he was to return. Cyrus 
bowed in gratitude before the king, appointed Tiri- 
dates as butler to the king during his absence, and 
early on the next morning he set out to Persia." 

" In vain had the wife of the slain Babylonian 
waited for his return to Ecbatana ; Oebares told her 
that robbers had killed him. Then she became the 
wife of the brother of her husband, and when she 
heard that Cyrus had gone to Persia, she remembered 
that her first husband had once confided to her the 
dream of the mother of Cyrus, and its interpreta- 
tion. She related this to her husband, who at once 


went to Astyages, told him all, and added that Cyrus 
had obviously gone to Persia with a view of pre- 
paring for the execution of that which the dream had 
portended. The king was seized with great anxiety, 
aud the Babylonian advised him to put Cyrus to death 
as soon as he returned. Towards evening Astyages 
caused his concubines to dance and play before him 
while drinking wine. One of the players sang : ' The 
lion has let the boar which he had in his power go 
forth to the pasture. There he will become strong and 
give great trouble to the lion, and at length he, the 
weaker, will overcome the stronger.' Astyages applied 
this song to himself and Cyrus, and on the spot sent 
300 horsemen to bring him back ; if he would not 
obey they were to cut off his head and bring that. 
When the horsemen brought to Cyrus the commands 
of Astyages, he answered cunningly, perhaps on the 
advice of Oebares : ' Why should I not return as my 
lord summons me ? To-day we will feast ; to-morrow 
morning we will set out.' This met with their 
approval. After the manner of the Persians, Cyrus 
caused many oxen and other animals to be slain in 
sacrifice, feasted the horsemen, and made them intoxi- 
cated ; at the same time he sent a message to his 
father to send at once 1000 cavalry and 5000 foot- 
soldiers to the city of Hyrba which lay on the way, 
and to arm the rest of the Persians as quickly as 
possible in such a way that it should seem to be done 
by command of the king. His true aims he did 
not communicate to him. In the night he and 
Oebares took horse, just as they were, hastened to 
Hyrba, armed the inhabitants, and drew out those 
whom Atradates had sent in order for battle. When 
the horsemen of Astyages had slept off their debauch 
on the following morning, and found that Cyrus had 


disappeared, they pursued him and came to Hyrba. 
Here Cyrus first displayed his bravery, for with his 
Fenians he slew 250 of the horse of Astyages. The 
remainder escaped, and brought the news to Astyages. 

* Woe is me ! ' cried the king striking his thigh, * that 
I, well knowing that we should not do good to the 
evil, have allowed myself to be carried away by clever 
speeches, and have raised up this Mardian to be such 
a mischief to me. Still, he shall not succeed.' He 
called his generals and bade them assemble the army, 
and led out against the Persians nearly 1,000,000 
foot-soldiers, 200,000 horse, and 3000 chariots." 

" Meanwhile the army under Atradates, who was 
now fully instructed, was collected : 300,000 infantry, 
50,000 horse, and 100 chariots. Cyrus encouraged 
the Persians, and Oebares seized the passes of the 
mountain and the heights, built lines, and brought 
the people from the open cities into such as were 
well fortified. Astyages burned down the abandoned 
cities, summoned Atradates and Cyrus to submission, 
and taunted them with their former beggary. Cyrus 
replied that Astyages did not recognise the power of 
the gods, which forced them, goat-herds as they were, 
to accomplish what was destined to be done. As he 
had done them kindness, they bade him lead back the 
Medes, and give their freedom to the Persians who 
were better than the Medes. Thus it came to a battle. 
Astyages, surrounded by 20,000 of his body-guard, 
looked on : among the Persians Atradates had the 
right, and Oebares the left, wing ; Cyrus, surrounded 
by the bravest warriors, was in the centre. The Per- 
sians defended themselves bravely, and slew many of 
the Medes, so that Astyages cried out on his throne : 

* How bravely these " terebinth- eaters" fight ! ' But at 
length the Persians were overpowered by numbers, and 


driven into the city before which they fought. Cyrus 
and Oebares advised to send the women and children 
to Pasargadae, which is the loftiest mountain, and re- 
new the battle on the next day : ' If we are defeated 
we must all die, and if that must be so it is better to 
fall in victory and for the freedom of our country.' 
Then all were filled with hatred and anger against the 
Medes, and when the morning came and the gates were 
opened, all marched out ; Atradates alone remained 
with the old men in the city to defend the walls. But 
while Cyrus and Oebares were fighting in the field, 
Astyages caused 100,000 men to go round and attack 
the Persian army in the rear. The attack succeeded. 
Atradates fell covered with wounds into the hands of 
the Medes. Astyages said to him : ' An excellent 
satrap are you ; is it thus that you thank me, you and 
your son, for what I have done for you ? ' Atradates, 
almost at the last gasp, replied : ' I know not, king, 
what deity has roused this frenzy in my son ; put me 
not to the torture, I shall soon die.' Astyages had 
compassion on him and said : ' I will not put you to 
the torture ; I know that if your son had followed 
your advice, he would not have done such things.' 
Atradates died, and Astyages gave him an honourable 
burial. Meanwhile Cyrus and Oebares after a brave 
struggle had been compelled to retire to Pasargadae. 
The mountain was very high and with steep sides, and 
the way to it led through narrow passes, which were 
here and there overtopped by high walls of rock. 
Oebares defended the passes with 10,000 heavy-armed 
men. As it was impossible to force a way through, 
Astyages gave command that 100,000 men should go 
round the mountain, and seek for a pass there and 
climb the mountain. This movement compelled Cyrus 
and Oebares to seek shelter during the night on a 


lower hill for the army, together with the women and 
children. Astyages followed quickly, and his army 
was already between the two mountains, and bravely 
attacked that held by the Persians, the approach to 
which, lying through deep gorges, thick oak forests, 
and wild olive trees, was very difficult. The Persians 
fought still more bravely ; in one place Cyrus dashed 
forward, and in another Oebares, who urged them not 
to let their wives, mothers, and old men be massacred 
and tortured by the Medes. So they rushed down 
with a cry, and when their javelins failed, they threw 
down stones in great numbers. The Medes were 
driven back, and Cyrus chanced to come to the house 
in which he once lived with his father as a boy, when 
he pastured goats. He kindled a fire of cypress and 
laurel-wood, and offered the sacrifice of the man who 
is distressed and in desperate circumstances. Then 
followed thunder and lightning, and when Cyrus sank 
down in prayer, birds of good omen settled on the 
roof, as a sign that he would again reach Pasargadae. 
So the Persians remained for the night on the 
mountain, and when on the following morning the 
Medes renewed the attack, they fought yet more 
bravely, relying on the happy omens. But Astyages 
placed 50,000 men at the foot of the mountain behind 
those who were attacking, and bade them slay all who 
came down. Thus pressed, the Medes fought more 
zealously than on the previous day, and the Persians 
retired to the top of the mountain on which were 
their women and children. These ran to meet the 
fugitives, and cried out to them, ' Cowards, whither 
would ye fly, will ye creep back into the bosoms that 
bore you ? ' Seized with shame, the Persians turned, 
and in one onslaught drove the Medes down the 
mountain, and slew sixty thousand of them." 


" But Astyages did not retire from the siege of the 
mountain. Cyrus had still need of much cunning and 
bravery before he succeeded in defeating Astyages 
and taking the camp of the Medes. On that day, 
Cyrus went into the tent of Astyages, seated . himself 
on his throne, and took the sceptre amid the acclam- 
ations of the Persians ; and Oebares put the king's 
kidaris on his head with the words : ' Thou art more 
worthy to bear it ; the gods give it to thee for thy 
virtue, and grant the Persians to rule over the Medes.' 
The treasures of Astyages, which the Persians found in 
the camp of the Medes, were brought to Pasargadae 
under the care of Oebares ; but even those which 
they found in the tents of the other Medes were 
enormous. It was not long before the intelligence of 
the defeat and flight of Astyages spread abroad, and 
nations as well as individuals deserted him. First of 
all Artasyras, the chief of the Hyrcanians, came, with 
50,000 men, and recognised Cyrus as king ; afterwards 
came the chiefs of the Parthians, Sacae, Bactrians, and 
other nations, each seeking to arrive before the other. 
Only a few faithful men remained with Astyages, and 
when Cyrus marched against him he was easily over- 
come. Then Cyrus gained possession of Ecbatana. 
There the daughter of Astyages and her husband 
Spitamas were taken captive with their two sons. 
But Astyages could not be found ; Amytis and 
Spitamas had hidden him in the palace in the wood- 
work of the roof. Then Cyrus commanded that 
Amytis, her husband, and her children should be 
tortured that they might confess where Astyages was, 
but he came forward of his own will to prevent the 
torture. Spitamas was beheaded, because he had lied, 
and said that he did not know the hiding-place of 
Astyages ; Amytis Cyrus took for his wife. He loosed 

VOL. V. A A 


from A sty ages the heavy chains which Oebares had 
put upon him, honoured him as a father, and made 
him satrap of the Barcanians." l 

According to Deinon, who wrote in the first half of 
the fourth century B. c., Cyrus was first governor of 
the staff-bearers of Astyages, and then of his body- 
guard. In a dream he had thrice seen the sun at 
his feet, and thrice stretched out his arms to grasp it, 
and the magicians had interpreted this dream to the 
effect that he would reign for thrice ten years. When 
Astyages had given Cyrus leave to go to Persia, and 
he had availed himself of it, the king sent for Angares, 
the most famous of the Median minstrels, in order to 
sing before him and his company at the banquet. 
After reciting the usual songs, Angares at last said : 
" The great beast of prey, more mighty than a wild 
boar, is let loose in the swamps ; when he is master 
of his land, he will with ease fight against many." 
And when Astyages asked, "What wild beast is 
this?" Angares answered: "Cyrus the Persian." 
Then Astyages, regarding the suspicion as well- 
founded, sent to fetch Cyrus back, but failed to 
recover him. 2 

The narrative of Pompeius Trogus has been pre- 
served in excerpts only. Astyages had a daughter, 
but no male heirs. From .her bosom, he saw, in a 
dream, a vine growing, of which the branches over- 
shadowed all Asia. The interpreters of dreams de- 
clared that this vision portended the greatness of 
the grandson whom his daughter would bring forth, 
but it also involved the loss of the empire to him. 
To be rid of this fear, Astyages had not given his 
daughter to any eminent man, nor even to a Mede 

1 Nicol. Damasc. fragm. 66; Ctes. "Fragm. Pers." 2, 5; Tzetz. 
" Chil." 1, 1, 82 ff. Athen. p. 633; Cic. "de Divin." 1, 23. 


that there might not be rank on the father's side 
"as well as on the mother's, to excite the ambition of 
his grandson but to Cambyses, a man of middle 
station, in the then unknown nation of the Persians. 
Even this did not remove the alarm of Astyages ; 
when his daughter was pregnant he sent for her in 
order to have her child put to death before his 
eyes. When a boy was born he gave him to Har- 
pagus, his trusted friend, to be put to death. But 
Harpagus, fearing that the daughter of Astyages if 
she should come to the throne would avenge on him 
the death of her son, gave the child to the herd man 
of the king, and bade him expose it. The herdman 
obeyed, but when his wife heard of the matter, she 
urged her husband to fetch the child and show it to 
her. Wearied by her entreaties, the herdman went 
back into the forest, and there found a dog beside the 
child, suckling it, and defending it from the beasts of 
prey. He took it up and carried it to his fold, while 
the dog followed in much distress. When the herd- 
man's wife took it in her arms, the child smiled on 
her as though it had known her, and it was so full 
of life and sweet smiles that the woman induced her 
husband to expose her own child in place of the 
grandson of the king. After this the excerpt goes 
on to relate, like Herodotus, the game of the boys, 
the answer of Cyrus, the revenge of Astyages on 
Harpagus, the letter in the hare's belly, in which 
Harpagus imparts to Cyrus his plan for the desertion 
of the Medes to the Persians. When Cyrus had 
received and read this letter in Persepolis, a dream 
also urged the enterprise upon him, but at the same 
time bade him take as his associate the man whom 
he met first on the following day. Next day, before 
dawn, Cyrus went on a journey, and met a slave of 

A A 2 


the name of Oebares, belonging to the house of a 
Mede. When Cyrus found that he was a Persian by 
birth, he took his chains off and turned back with him 
to Persepolis. Cyrus then assembled the Persians. 
On the first day he made them cut down a wood on 
the way, and on the second he entertained them. 
Astyages sends Harpagus against them, and he 
passes over to their side with the army entrusted to 
him. Astyages now marches out in person, after sum- 
moning all his forces, against Persia. The struggle 
was severe. Astyages placed a portion of his army 
in the rear of his forces, and told the latter that they 
must try whether they could not break through the 
ranks of the enemy in battle more easily than through 
the ranks behind them in flight. The Medes attacked 
with great spirit; the Persians were forced back to 
their wives and children, by whom they were again 
driven into the battle with the cry : Would they fly 
for refuge into the bosoms of their mothers and wives ? 
They put the Medes to flight. Here the excerpt of 
Justin breaks off, though he represents Astyages as 
having been taken prisoner in this battle after the 
rout. Cyrus merely took the government from him ; 
he treated him as his grandfather, and made him 
satrap of the Hyrcanians ; Oebares he made ruler of 
Persia, and gave him his sister in marriage. 1 

Polyaenus repeats the narrative of Herodotus about 
the manner in which Cyrus induced the Persians to 
revolt. Then followed a war between the Medes and 
Persians, and Cyrus was three times defeated. As the 
women and children of the Persians were at Pasar- 
gadae, Cyrus was compelled to risk another battle in the 
neighbourhood of this place. The Persians were again 
put to flight ; Oebares was retreating when the women 
* Justin, 1, 47 ; cf. 44, 4. 


met the fugitives, with the cry already quoted. The 
Persians halted ; and as the Medes were pursuing 
without order, the Persians gained such a victory that 
no further battle was needed to decide the question of 
the throne. 1 Anaximenes of Lampsacus also relates 
that Cyrus had built Pasargadae at the place where 
he had overcome Astyages in battle. Strabo tells us : 
" Cyrus held Pasargadae in honour, for it was there 
that he conquered Astyages in the final battle, and 
became ruler of all Asia in his place, and he builfc 
a city and a palace in remembrance of the victory." 2 
Plutarch tells us : When Cyrus revolted from Astyages 
and the Medes he was three times conquered in battle, 
and when the Persians fled into the city, the enemy 
had almost succeeded in forcing an entrance with them, 
when the women came out to meet them. The cry of 
the women brought about a change in the battle, and 
for this reason Cyrus made a law that as often as the 
king came into the city of Pasargadae, every woman 
should receive a piece of gold. Ochus marched past 
the city to evade the law ; but Alexander twice 
entered Pasargadae, and gave double to all the women 
that were with child. 3 In all these narratives the 
land of the Persians is the scene of the decisive 

Only a few short fragments remain of the account 

' Polysen. " Strat." 7, 6 ; 7, 45. But he also explains the change of 
fortune at Pasargadae in another -way. When Cyrus fled to that place 
after his retreat, and many Persians deserted to the Medes, he spread 
abroad a report that on the following day 100,000 enemies of the 
Medes (Cadusians ?) would come to his assistance ; every man was to 
prepare a bundle of faggots for the allies. The deserter told this to 
the Modes, and when Cyrus in the night caused all the bundles to bo 
lighted, the Modes, thinking that the Persians had received substantial 
assistance, deserted. 

8 Strabo, p. 727, 730. Stoph. Byzant. 

8 " Do mulier. virtuto," 5. 


given by Diodorus of the overthrow of Astyages. With 
him Cyrus is the son of Mandane, the daughter of 
Astyages, and Cambyses. His father brought him 
up as a king, and inflamed him with a desire for 
the mightiest achievements. As a young man he dis- 
played a capacity in advance of his years, and clearly 
showed that he would undertake the most important 
enterprises. He was the first man of his time in 
bravery, wisdom, and all other virtues. Another frag- 
ment obviously comes after the defeat, which, accord- 
ing to Nicolaus, Astyages suffered in the final battle 
at Pasargadae. When defeated, Astyages, though he 
had himself disgracefully turned and fled, showed 
ferocious anger against his army. He deposed all the 
commanders and elected others in their place. Those 
who were to blame for the flight, he executed one 
and all, thinking that he should thus compel the 
others to show themselves brave men in danger. 
" For he was cruel arid harsh in character. But he 
did not terrify the multitude by this severity ; on the 
other hand, by the exasperation which such violence 
and caprice excited in every one, he roused them to a 
desire for revolution and deposition. The troops met 
in their divisions ; treasonable speeches were uttered, 
and the majority urged each other to vengeance." l 

Xenophon, it is true, has not written a history of 
Cyrus, but has given a description of his life from 
his knowledge of the Persian life and character, 
and the conclusions he deduced therefrom, as to the 
possible origin of the empire, in order to explain and 
realise to the Greeks the difficulty which they found 
it so hard to solve the manner in which great 
nations could form one community and be governed 
by one person. With him Cyrus is the son of 

1 Diod. " Ex. de virt. et vit." p. 552, 553 (= 9, 24) ; cf. 4, 30. 


Cambyses, who is the king of the Persians, and 
Mandaue the daughter of Astyages of Media, whom 
Xenophon represents as reigning before Cyaxares. 
When Cyrus was twelve years of age, his mother went 
with him to Media, in order to show him to his grand- 
father, whom the boy astonished by his apt answers. 
At the age of sixteen, Cyrus performs his first deeds 
of arms. When Astyages died, he was succeeded on 
the throne by his son Cyaxares, the brother of Man- 
dane. He entreats Cambyses to aid him against the 
Assyrians ; Cambyses sends Cyrus, by whose services 
the Medes are defeated. After this he conquered 
the Lydians, who had come to aid the Assyrians 
against the Medes, and took Babylon ; and his uncle 
Cyaxares, whom Xenophon does not describe as a 
pattern ruler, gives him his daughter in marriage, 
and Media as a dowry, for he was without male 
children. Cambyses and Mandane assented to this 
arrangement. After the death of Cambyses, Cyrus 
became king of Persia, and on the death of Cyaxares, 
Media also became his. 

The Armenians also narrate the fall of Astyages. 
Moses of Chorene (I. 513) tells us that he only re- 
lated the stories of the Persians to please his patron 
Sahak (Isaac) Bagratuni, and gave them a meaning 
which they did not possess. Biurasp Asdahag lived 
at the time of Nimrod, and the person whom the 
Persians in their stories call the child of Satan, 
served him ; and with regard to the dragon, or the 
changing of Asdahag into a dragon, the truth was 
that he sacrificed men in infinite numbers to the 
dragon, till the multitude grew weary, overpowered 
him, and threw him into a trench filled with bitumen. 
Moses further tells us: The ninth descendant of 
Baroir of Armenia (I. 515), King Tigran, was the 


mightiest of all the princes of Armenia, and helped 
Cyrus to overthrow the kingdom of the Medes. 
Tigran was pledged by treaties to Asdahag (Astyagee) 
the king of the Medians, and when he united with 
Cyrus, Astyages had an evil dream. He saw a high 
mountain surrounded by snow and ice, as in the land 
of the son of Haikhs (I. 513). On the summit of the 
mountain, a woman in purple, covered with a sky-blue 
veil, brought forth three heroes at once : one, carried 
on a lion, dashed toward the west ; the second, on a 
leopard, to the north ; the third, on a monstrous 
dragon, to Media. With this Asdahag fought in the 
dream : they shed a sea of blood, and pierced each 
other with their lances. Asdahag explained this 
dream to mean that he had to expect an attack from 
Tigran, the king of Armenia. To prevent this, and 
secretly to destroy Tigran, Asdahag sought Tigran 's 
sister, Tigranuhi, in marriage, obtained her, and held 
her in great honour. Then he asked for a meeting with 
Tigran. But Tigranuhi had perceived the duplicity of 
Asdahag, and warned her brother. He collected the 
best warriors of great and little Armenia, and marched 
against the Medes. The war continued for four 
months, till Tigran in a hand-to-hand conflict pierced 
the iron armour of Asdahag with his lance. The death 
of Asdahag put an end to the battle and the war, 
and Tigran led his sister back to Armenia, where she 
became the ancestress of the race of Osdan. Anuish 
(Aryanis), the first wife of Astyages, and a number of 
young princesses and boys, more than 10,000 in all, 
Tigranes brought to Armenia, and settled there to 
the east of the great mountain, towards the land of 
Koghten, in the plain of Ajtnayan, as far as Nakh- 
jevan. In the songs of the people of Koghten, the 
descendants of Astyages are spoken of in an alle- 


gorical manner, as the descendants of the dragon ; 
for Astyages (Asdahag) in our language means the 
dragon." 1 As has been shown, the Armenians were 
closely allied to the people of Iran in language, cha- 
racter, and religious worship. It cannot therefore 
astonish us that the legends of Iran are known to 
them. What Moses tells us of Biurasp Asdahag and 
his serpents rests on the myth in the Avesta of the 
serpent Azhi dahaka, the Zohak of the later form 
of Iranian legend (p. 250). The epithet which Moses 
gives to Asdahag, Biurasp, is also of Iranian origin ; 
Baevara9pa means the lord of 10,000 horses. That 
the descendants of Astyages are spoken of in the 
national legend of Armenia as the descendants of 
the dragon, shows that the Armenians had con- 
founded Astyages of Media with Azhi dahaka or 
Zohak. The Armenians can only claim as their own 
the legend of King Tigran, who overcomes and slays 
Asdahag of Media. They ascribe to their princes the 
overthrow of the Medes. As already remarked, the 
Armenian legend of Tigran must come down from 
an early date. Xenophon makes Tigran the son 
of the king of Armenia, the most faithful helper and 
associate of Cyrus. 2 

Leaving out of sight the romance of Xenophon, 
and the Armenian tradition, which involve special 
hypotheses, the accounts in the West of the fall of 

1 Moses Choren. 1, 24 30, and appendix to the first book, accord- 
ing to Le Vaillant's translation. 

2 The form and explanation of the legend of Asdahag in Moses, as 
well as the mention of Eustem Sakjig, who has the strength of ton 
elephants (2, 8), t. e. of Eustem of Sejestan, prove that the East- 
Iranian legend, as we find it in Firdusi, must have been current in 
Western Iran in the fourth century at the latest, if it came into 
Armenia in the fifth century. I do not think it probable that Moses 
took the legend of Tigran from Xonophon's narrative. The vision in 
a dream and the duel point to Armenian tradition. 


Astyagcs go back to two distinct versions, one of which 
we have in the narrative of Herodotus, the other in 
the narrative of Ctesias-Nicolaus, which is presupposed 
in Deinon and Polyaeims. In Trogus we have a third 
version, which combines the two. So far as Justin's 
excerpt allows us to form an opinion, this version, and 
the fragments of Diodorus, are based upon the Persian 
history of Deinon. The introduction is distinguished 
from the account of Herodotus by the fact that only 
one dream of Astyages is mentioned ; that Cyrus is 
already exposed, and a dog is suckling him before 
the herdsman's wife, whose name was " dog," brings 
him up ; then follows the story of Herodotus, in- 
cluding the letter, which Harpagus sends to Cyrus in 
the hare's belly. At this point Trogus passes into the 
account of Nicolaus ; he represents Cyrus as receiving 
in a dream the exhortation to rise against Astyages, 
and to take the first man he meets as his associate. 
Cyrus meets Oebares, though not, it is true, on the 
borders of the Cadusians. The place of the horse- 
men, who in Nicolaus are first sent by Astyages, is 
taken in Trogus by the march of Harpagus, and his 
desertion to Cyrus ; then follows the narrative of the 
war, which in the most essential traits agrees with the - 
version of Ctesias-Nicolaus. From Deinon's frag- 
ments we shall add to the excerpt from Trogus, that 
Cyrus before his rebellion had served at the court 
of Astyages as overseer of the staff-bearers, and then 
of the body-guard ; that Astyages was warned by 
Angares ; and, finally, the defection of the Medes after 
the battle of Pasargadae, as given in the fragments 
of Diodorus. 

The detail and liveliness of the traits in the accounts 
of Herodotus and Ctesias-Nicolaus, in the fragment 
of Deinon, and the narrative of Trogus the warnings 


and portents the dialogues and speeches of the 
action the letter : all these point to poetical sources. 
We found that the accounts of Ctesias of the found- 
ation, rise, and fall of Assyria, and of the rise of 
Media, were based upon poems, and here also, beyond 
doubt, poetic traditions form the groundwork. Hero- 
dotus, at the beginning of his narrative, tells us : "I 
write these matters from the accounts given by some 
of the Persians, who do not exaggerate the life of 
Cyrus, but wish to narrate the order of events ; I am 
aware that three other different accounts of the life of 
Cyrus are in existence." l Xenophon tells us that 
Cyrus " is even now the theme of song among the 
barbarians." 2 In Demon's fragment it is Angares, the 
most famous of the Median minstrels, who, while 
singing at the table of Astyages, warns him in a 
poetical figure against Cyrus (p. 354) ; in the account 
of Nicolaus it is one of the singing women, from whom, 
at the same time and in a similar figure, this warning 
comes. At the court of the Sassanids there were 
singing women who sang to the kings the achieve- 
ments of old days. Ibn-al-Hareth brought women of 
this kind from the court of Chosru Nushirvan to the 
Koreishites, and they sang the deeds of Rustem. 3 
According to these statements and indications we 
may regard it as certain that the elevation of Cyrus 
and the fall of Astyages was celebrated in song 
among the Persians and Medes. In spite of the differ- 
ences between the three narratives, certain traits are 
common to all. In all dreams announce the future 
greatness of Cyrus ; in Herodotus these appear to 
Astyages ; in Nicolaus, to the mother of Cyrus ; in 
Deinon and Trogus, to Cyrus also. In Herodotus 

1 1, 95. a " Cyri Instit." 1, 2, 1. 

8 J. Mohl, " Livre des rois," Introd. p. 29. 


Cambyses is rich in flocks, in Nicolaus the mother of 
Cyrus tends goats ; in Herodotus Cambyses is of a 
quiet disposition, in Nicolaus he is driven by his son 
to revolt, and finally disowns the enterprise. All three 
narratives lay stress on the warnings given to Astyages 
against Cyrus, though in different ways ; all mark 
strongly the early personal valour of Cyrus, which 
Xenophon also celebrates. Artembares the Mode is 
found both in Herodotus and Nicolaus, though in a 
different relation to Cyrus. In all three accounts a 
counsellor Harpagus in the one case, Oebares in the 
other exercises the greatest influence on the resolutions 
of Cyrus. Herodotus and Nicolaus mark the cunning 
of Cyrus as opposed to Astyages ; in both Cyrus gives 
out that he is carrying out the king's orders in arming 
the Persians. In Herodotus Cyrus tells the Persians 
that he does not consider them worse men than the 
Medes, and they revolt " because they have now got a 
leader in Cyrus." In Nicolaus Cyrus asks whether 
there is not a leader who can put an end to the rule 
of the Medes over better men than themselves. In 
both the dominion of the Medes has long been hated 
by the Persians. In both before the beginning of 
the struggle Astyages commands Cyrus to appear 
before him. In Herodotus Astyages says, when 
Harpagus has passed over to Cyrus and the Median 
army has broken up, that " he shall not succeed ; " 
and in Nicolaus he uses the same words after the 
first defeat of his horsemen. In Herodotus it is the 
cruelty of Astyages to Harpagus, and his severity 
towards the Medes, which cost him his throne ; in 
Diodorus the army revolts, even after brave fighting, 
from Astyages because he cruelly revenges upon 
them the defeat at Pasargadae. In all three accounts 
Cyrus does no harm to Astyages after his victory. 


Let us set aside the poetical colours in the account 
of Herodotus in order to test its coherence. What 
alarm could Astyages, who was without male heirs, 
feel at the announcement that his daughter's son 
would one day rule over all Asia, i. e. would still 
further extend the dominion of the Medes ? In the 
second dream, which portends no more than the first, 
a reason is given for the alarm ; the interpreters 
declare that the dream signifies that Astyages will 
lose his throne. If Astyages had reason to fear the 
yet unborn child of his daughter, the obvious remedy 
was not to allow her to marry. Nevertheless she is 
married, not to a Mede, but to a man of the subject 
races, a Persian of a good family, i. e. of noble 
descent, wealthy, but " quiet in his disposition." 
This was equivalent to taking the Persian into the 
royal family, giving up to him or his son the right 
of succession, bringing the crown of Media into the 
possession of a'stranger, and allowing the kingdom to 
pass from the Medes to the Persians. Even if such 
perversity could occur to Astyages the Medes were 
not likely to permit it, when the Magians tell Astyages, 
in Herodotus, how anxious they are that the dominion 
should not fall into the hands of a Persian. It is 
true that Herodotus represents Harpagus some twenty 
or thirty years later as persuading the chief Medes, 
and persuading them singly, that Astyages must be 
overthrown, and the Persian made king, but this is 
simply incredible. After this marvellous marriage of 
the heiress to the throne with a Persian, Cambyses is 
not brought to Ecbatana to the court, but remains 
in Persia, and no harm is done to the dreaded son of 
the marriage, even when his real origin has been 
discovered. Nay, more, the boy who at an early age 
discovers high aims, and a resolute will, is not even 


brought to the court to be under the eye of Astyages, 
but is sent back to Persia to his father, and by his 
means Harpagus is able to bring Persia to revolt. 
The letter hidden in the hare's belly obviously arose 
from an anticipation of the supervision of the great 
roads which was introduced at a later time by the 
Achaemenids. But what reason had Cyrus to cause 
the Persians to revolt ? According to Herodotus 
Cambyses is the son-in-law, and hence the heir, of 
Astyages. Cyrus will succeed his father as heir to 
the Median throne, why then should he rebel against 
his aged grandfather ? why should he seek by hazard, 
danger, and bloodshed, a crown which by inheritance 
must soon come to Cambyses or Cyrus ? l 

In the narrative of Herodotus Cyrus is no more 
than an instrument in the hands of Harpagus. The 
crime of Astyages against Harpagus ; the well-merited 
punishment of this crime by his own imprisonment 
and loss of empire, form the hinge of the narrative, 
which at the same time brings into prominence the 
doctrine that no one, even though warned, can escape 
his doom. It is not probable that there were songs 
among the Persians or Medes, which illustrated Hero- 
dotus' view of the unavoidable Nemesis which governs 
the actions and fortunes of men ; or that Persian 
poems would represent Cyrus as the son of a Median 
mother. In them the Persians merely glorified the 

1 It has been objected to this analysis that the marriage with the 
heiress may not have conveyed the throne ipso facto to the husband ; 
it may have been open to the chieftains to elect a king out of the 
members of the royal family. This may be correct for the election of 
the Afghan chiefs at the present day by the heads of the families. 
How the succession to the throne was arranged among the Medes we 
do not know in any detail, or whether their chiefs had any importance 
at all ; but we do see that the crown went from father to son from 
Deioces downwards. In any case, even under that hypothesis, the 
husband of the heiress had a nearer claim. 


founder of their freedom and supremacy, of whom, as 
we know, they cherished the most grateful memories. 
But the Medes might possess poems in which the 
change of empire was treated from their point of 
view ; they might attempt to make the loss of empire 
appear less painful, the dishonour of defeat by the 
Persians less degrading. To be overthrown by a man 
belonging to the subject race was bitter. Hence the 

o o > 

Medes could avail themselves of a change frequent in 
the East, and represent Cyrus as a scion of their 
own royal house. The Egyptians maintained that 
Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, who reduced them to 
subjection, was the son of Cyrus and the daughter of 
their own Pharaoh Hophra. 1 This was mere inven- 
tion ; and the Medes must have found their version 
the more easy to maintain, because Cyrus spared 
Astyages after the defeat, and took his daughter into 
his harem. And if it was not the arms of the Per- 
sians, but rather the treachery of a distinguished 
Mede, the discontent of the chiefs of Media with a 
cruel king, that decided the struggle between the 
Persians and Medes, the submission became thus less 
intolerable to the pride of the Medes. If a distin- 
guished Mede had been at variance with Astyages, and 
in the last moment of the battle had gone over to 
Cyrus, much could be made of the desertion in 
Median poems. If after his victory Cyrus reposed 
great confidence in an eminent Mede, this might be 
made a ground for previous treachery to Astyages. 
A few years after his victory Cyrus entrusted to the 
Mede Harpagus, the leadership of the army, the 
subjugation and maintenance of far distant regions. 
If the legend of the Persians represented Achaemenes, 

1 Herod. 3, 2. So Deiuon and Lyceas of Naucratis in Athenaeus, 
p. 5GO. 


the ancestor of their princely race, as being fed by 
an eagle (p. 327), their poems would speak of the 
founder of their dominion as distinguished by divine 
honours, and surround his birth and youth with 
happy omens of the future. These traits the Medes 
could use for their own purposes as warnings vouch- 
safed to Astyages. If the Persians represented Cyrus 
as suckled by a dog, the favoured creature of Aura- 
mazda, the Medes carried the subject further, and 
spoke of the exposing of Cyrus, which was then 
brought into combination with the enmity of Har- 
pagus to Astyages ; the origin of this was the re- 
fusal of Harpagus to put the Persian boy to death, 
which Astyages punished by the Thyestean banquet. 
Thus owing to the crime of Astyages, Harpagus 
their own countryman became filled with desire for 
vengeance ; he is the counsellor of Cyrus, the author 
and leader of the revolt. 

Median poetry of this kind has been followed by 
Herodotus. He has told us already that he would 
narrate the life of Cyrus as it was given by the 
Persians, who had no desire to exaggerate their 
account, but these Persians are undoubtedly the 
Medes. The Median origin of his story is placed 
})eyond doubt by the words which the captive Asty- 
ages addresses to Harpagus, and by the fact that 
with him it is a Mede who is the decisive counsellor 
and guide of Cyrus, while in the other version it is a 
Persian. Beside the reason given by Herodotus him- 
self for choosing this version, others no doubt had 
influence. The Delphian oracle bade Croesus take to 
flight " whenever a mule should govern the Medes." 
According to the Medes Cyrus was the son of a 
Persian father and Median mother. The sufferings 
and acts of Harpagus formed the centre of the Median 


version, and he was only too well known to the 
Greeks on the west coast of Asia Minor. With the 
warning portents, and the exposure of Cyrus, the 
Median version brought Herodotus on the familiar 
ground of Greek legend, in which similar oracles, 
futile exposing of children, and deceptive explanations 
were common. Finally, the vengeance which over- 
took Astyages suits the ethical feeling of Herodotus. 
We may assume therefore that his narrative faithfully 
represents the contents of Median poems. These 
could already have changed the dog which was 
said to have suckled Cyrus into the herdman's wife, 
who was called by the name of " dog." But inas- 
much as Herodotus does not " intend to exaggerate," 
as he observes that "the dog was everything in 
the mouth of Cyrus," and " his parents caught this 
up in order to represent the preservation of Cyrus 
as a work of the gods," as he further remarks " that 
Cyrus owing to his origin was regarded as more than 
human," 1 this rationalising turn may have proceeded 
from the historian himself. In the Persian tradition 
Cyrus was certainly suckled and guarded by the dog, 
and this trait is retained in the account of Deinon- 
Trogus, though united with the story of the ex- 
posure. But Deinon lias at the same time proved the 
exposure impossible, for ne states that Cyrus came 
to the throne in his fortieth year-, and lived till his 
seventieth. 2 If this were true, the exposure and the 
command of Astyages respecting it would fall to the 
ground, for Cyrus would have seen the light in the 
year 599 B.C., i. e. some years before the accession of 
Astyages, even if we allow the latter the longer reign 
which Eusebius assigns to him. 

If the story of Herodotus is governed by the 

1 Herod. 1, 207; 3, 75 ; 7, 11. 2 Cicero, "de Divin." 1, 23. 
VOL. v. B B 


conception of the unavoidable punishment of crime, 
the connecting clue in the story of Nicolaus is the 
rise of a beggar-boy of the lowest origin by skill and 
industry, by cunning and bravery, by endurance in the 
greatest danger, and final victory in the most severe 
struggles. Cyrus is the son of humble parents ; his 
father is driven by want to robbery, his mother tends 
goats ; they belong to the lowest tribe of the Persians, 
the marauding Mardians whom we have found in the 
mountains of south-western Persia (p. 323). Hunger 
drives the boy from the goat-pasture to Ecbatana. 
Beginning as a sweeper of the palace, he works his 
way step by step upwards by address and industry to 
the highest offices at the court, so that he can make 
his father satrap of Persia and his mother the most 
distinguished lady in Persia. Then the dream of his 
mother, and the interpretation given of it by the 
Babylonian, plant ambition in his soul, which is 
strengthened by the happy portent, vouchsafed to 
him on his mission to the chief of the Cadusians, and 
the advice of Oebares. He succeeds in persuading 
Astyages to grant him permission to visit his parents 
in Persia ; when too late, Astyages is warned by the 
wife of the Babylonian, and the words of the singing- 
woman (Angares in Deinon). A fierce war breaks 
out. The father of Cyrus is taken captive, and in 
his last moments disavows the attempt of his son. 
Defeated again and again, the Persians in their last 
refuge at Pasargadae are reduced to the greatest 
distress. Then fortune turns ; the Medes are driven 
back and defeated in numerous engagements, and 
Oebares can at length place the crown on the head of 
Cyrus in the tent of Astyages. 

If Xenophon in his book on Cyrus sought to make 
it clear to the Greeks, by what personal and material 


means Cyrus was able to conquer Asia, Ctesias or 
Nicolaus will show pragmatically how a beggar-boy 
rose step by step to be lord of the continent. He says 
nothing of the relationship of Astyages and Cyrus, or 
of the princely origin of Cyrus, or of his exposure, or 
of the dog : Cyrus owes his successes to himself and 
the gods. However impossible it may be that this 
introduction and the whole tendency of the narrative 
can be borrowed from the tradition of the Persians ; 
however certain that Cyrus the beggar-boy is an 
invention of the Greeks, to point the contrast between 
beginning and end, and make the subject more in- 
teresting ; yet if only we give another turn to the 
introduction, we have the Persian account before us in 
the narrative of Nicolaus, as we have the Median in 
the account of Herodotus and a mixture of the two 
in the excerpt from Trogus. The Persian version is 
from the first marked in Ctesias and Nicolaus by the 
fact that they do not represent Cyrus as the descend- 
ant of Astyages. Moreover, the parallel between the 
fall of the Assyrians and the fall of the Median empire 
cannot be mistaken. " We must narrate the great 
change brought about by the transition of the do- 
minion to the Persians " such is the beginning of the 
account of Nicolaus. This parallel can only have 
arisen from Persian minstrels. They had to show 
that the task of Cyrus was great, and more difficult 
than that of Arbaces. They had to lay the greatest 
stress on the personal excellence of Cyrus in order 
to raise him above the level of Arbaces. The latter, 
guided by the advice of the viceroy of Babylon and 
aided by the Babylonians, had proved the conqueror. 
The arts of the Chaldseans were certainly respected 
and used in Iran ; they must have been sought after 
and employed as a poetic motive. It was to carry 

B B 2 


out the parallel that the Persian songs gave Cyrus 
a Babylonian adviser ; yet they represent the counsel 
and influence of this Babylonian as entirely removed 
by a Persian of far greater importance, and utterly 
thrown into the shade. The emphasis which the 
Persian songs laid on the personal virtue of Cyrus 
misled the Greeks into making an attempt at the 
biography of the beggar-boy, and so rendered this 
change easier. Atradates, the name given by Nicolaus 
to the father of Cyrus, is no doubt taken from an 
epithet of Cyrus himself. Strabo tells us that Cyrus 
was originally called Atradates; the word is the 
old Persian atriyadata, old Bactrian, ataredata ; the 
Avesta recommends the name as good and saving. 
The parents of Cyrus are said to belong to the tribe of 
the Mardians, but later on Nicolaus himself shows 
that Cyrus' ancestral home is at Pasargadae (p. 352). 
In contempt the Medes might unite the whole Per- 
sian nation under the name of their poorest tribes. 
" Why have I raised up these Mardians for such 
mischief?" Astyages asks in Nicolaus. The goat- 
tending of the mother of Cyrus is due to the same 
cause. In the account of Herodotus Cambyses is 
said to be rich in herds ; among the Persians the 
care of flocks occupied a large place, and at a later 
time the tending and protection of the flocks was one 
of the means employed for strengthening and hard- 
ening the Persian youth. Cyrus himself, in the narra- 
tive of Nicolaus, calls himself and his father goat- 
herds. When Arsaces of Armenia visited the court 
of the Sassanid Shapur II. one of the first officers 
at the court of Shapur insolently said : " Will the 
king of the goats pasture on our slopes?" 1 Such 
traits as these in the Persian poems, connected with 
1 Si Martin on Lebeau, " Bas Empire," 2, 221. 


the poverty and simplicity of the life of the " terebinth- 
eating" Persians (which Nicolaus also, following the 
tradition, brings into such prominence), supplied the 
Greek revision with the necessary support for chang- 
ing Cyrus into a Mardian goat-herd and beggar-boy. 
Yet the true position of the parents of Cyrus breaks 
through in the statement that the father of Cyrus was 
satrap of Persia, and his mother the first lady in the 
land, a position which also appears in the statement 
in Herodotus of the noble descent and wealth of 
Cambyses, and is even more plainly marked in other 
passages in which the taunt is hurled at Cyrus : that 
the son of Cambyses ought not to give way to a 
woman, and traces the lineage of Cyrus back to 
Achsenienes, though in the account of the rebellion of 
Cyrus he calls his grandfather also Cyrus. 

The rise of Cyrus at the court of Astyages was 
borrowed from another trait in the Persian poems. 
The custom of the East, that the sons of distinguished 
princes and nobles should perform certain courtly and 
honourable services at the gate of the king, must have 
been current in Media also. The Persian poems must 
have proudly declared how Cyrus distinguished him- 
self there in his youth in the duties of the court or of 
arms. This description was changed into the series of 
stages by which the beggar-boy rose to the highest 
office at the court of the king. The Persian account 
is obviously preserved here in Demon's narrative 
like the suckling and protection of Cyrus by the dog 
in which Cyrus before the rebellion is chief of the 
staff-bearers and the body-guard of the king. When 
Cyrus had won the favour of Astyages, Nicolaus is 
obviously more true to the Persian account. In old 
days the chaff of horses announced his elevation to 
Arbaces, and to Cyrus it is announced by horse-dung, 


which is carried to him by a Persian, the slave of a 
Mede, who has been recently whipped ; and as to 
Arbaces, so to Cyrus, a Babylonian announces that 
the throne is destined for him. As Arbaces is in- 
stigated and encouraged by Belesys, so is Cyrus by 
the interpreter of dreams from Babylon, and Cyrus 
promises him great rewards if he reaches the throne, 
as Arbaces had promised Belesys. The conversations 
of Arbaces with Belesys correspond exactly to the 
conversations of Cyrus with the Babylonian and 
Oebares. In Nicolaus Cyrus says, that Arbaces who 
overthrew Sardanapalus was not wiser than himself, 
nor were the Medes better warriors than the Persians. 
But if the Median empire was founded with the help 
of the Babylonian, the Persian must rise without such 
assistance. Arbaces had to concede to Belesys and 
his successors the hereditary dominion over Baby- 
lonia ; on this occasion Oebares takes care that in the 
future empire of the Persians, Babylonia shall not be 
in the way as an hereditary monarchy given in reward 
of services ; he removes the Babylonian against the 
wishes of Cyrus. If the Medes had formerly been 
able to conquer Assyria with the aid of the Baby- 
lonians, the Persians now defeat the Medes unaided, 
and if Sardanapalus was effeminate, Astyages, accord- 
ing to Nicolaus, is the bravest king of the Medes after 
Arbaces. To treat the struggle so briefly as Herodotus 
does was impossible for Nicolaus, as the object of his 
narrative was to bring out the valour of Cyrus. So 
we may assume that the Persian songs gave similar 
prominence to the contests before Nineveh and Pasar- 
gadae. Arbaces is thrice defeated before Nineveh, and 
inclined to retire. Astyages leads against Cyrus the 
whole forces of his kingdom more than a million 
soldiers. In spite of the excellent arrangements of 


Oebares and the utmost bravery, Cyrus is three times 
defeated : he is already reduced to extremities in the 
fourth conflict, when the cry of the women restores 
the fight. At length Oebares is able to place the 
Median crown on the head of Cyrus in the tent of 
Astyages. With such servants the throne and king- 
dom of the Persians is more firmly established than 
that of the Medes. 

This inquiry enables us to reconstruct in its main 
outlines the tradition of the Persians. Cambyses, the 
descendant of AchsBmenes, was the chief of the Per- 
sians. Before the birth of Cyrus his wife had a 
dream that so much water came from her " that it 
was like a great river which inundated all Asia, and 
flowed into the sea." We know what reverence the 
Avesta pays to the dog, and the importance it ascribes 
to its glance (p. 207). The suckling of the boy 
Cyrus by a dog is the sign of the most bounteous 
favour and most secure protection on the part of the 
gods. Herodotus told us above that owing to his 
origin Cyrus counted himself as more than a man, 
and Xenophon represents him as begotten by gods, 
springing from a line of kings, and practised from his 
youth up in bravery and virtue. 1 In accordance 
with the custom of the Persians the son of the prince 
grows up among the flocks. Mithradates, which Hero- 
dotus gives as the name of the herdsman with whom 
the boy is brought up, means " given by Mithra ; " 
the favourite of the god, who increases the flocks of 
the farms where men worship him, and gives victory 
in battles, is the protector of Cyrus. In the game of 
the boys he shows by cleverness and unbroken resolu- 
tion the great destiny to which he was called. Then 
he goes into service at the court of the Median king ; 

1 " Cyri instit." 7, 3, 24. 


where the Persian poems have already shown us 
Parsondes at the time of Cyaxares, who subsequently 
made the Cadusians enemies of the Medes. 1 Eminent 
in every position, Cyrus wins the confidence of Asty- 
ages, and becomes the chief of his bodyguard. Then 
according to Deinon's fragments he sees the sun in a 
dream thrice inclining towards him. It was the 
brilliance or majesty of the king which Cyrus is 
represented as beholding. In the A vesta Thraetaona 
and Kerea9pa seize the majesty when it departs 
from Yima, and the Turanian Franghra5yan seeks 
thrice to grasp the glance of the majesty. 2 Then a 
Persian, the slave of a Mede, brings a new sign of 
good fortune to Cyrus when far from his fatherland 
on the borders of the Cadusians. Oebares (Hubara, 
the good bearer) is the first Persian whom Cyrus 
liberates from the service of the Medes ; and thus he 
has gained his most faithful helper. Angares the 
Mede, who warns Astyages, calls Cyrus " more mighty 
than a wild boar." The singing girl also calls Cyrus 
a " boar." We saw above that the victorious god 
Verethraghna appears in the form of a boar, and in 
that shape accompanies the chariot of Mithra. 3 The 
battle in the mountains of Persia, as described by 
Nicolaus, belongs in all essential traits to the Persian 
legend. It is precisely at Pasargadae, at the house 
of Cyrus, . e. of Achaemenes, that the fortune of arms 
changes. The proclamation of Cyrus in the tent of 
Astyages, and his coronation by the Persians, which 
first made him a free man instead of a Median slave, 
is throughout in accordance with the meaning and 
tendency of the Persian legend. The gentleness of 

1 Above, p. 299 ff. Above, p. 34, 35, 36, 256. 

8 Above, p. 110. Cf. Windiscbmann, " Zoroastrische Studien," B. 


Cyrus towards Astyagcs is the counterpart of the 
generosity which the Median king who conquered 
Nineveh once displayed towards Belesys. Oebares 
undoubtedly belongs to the Persian Epos ; he is the 
faithful servant who upholds the interest of the 
kingdom even against the will of the king, and 
sacrifices himself for it. The Persians of the best 
time held it a duty to sacrifice themselves for the 

The overthrow of the Parthian empire is explained 
in the same way as the overthrow of the Medes. 
Papak, the prince of Fars, sees in a dream the sun 
illuminating the world from the head of his herd- 
man Sassan. His daughter brings forth Ardeshir to 
Sassan ; Ardeshir serves at the court of the Parthian 
king Artaban, and shoots wild asses better than any- 
one else. On an announcement of the interpreters 
of stars, Ardeshir flies from the court and arms the 
Persians. Artaban abuses him as an impudent Kurd, 
and sends the prince of Susiana to fetch him, but 
this prince, and then Artaban himself, are over- 
come. Shapur, the son of Ardeshir, is restored to life 
against his command, and his grandson Auharmazdi 
is brought up secretly, and recognised by his conduct 
in the play of the boys. In both, dreams and letters 
and the inborn majesty of the royal children play 
their part. l 

Astyages, who ascended the throne in the year 593 
B.C., ruled over the Median empire for more than 30 
years ; he had already reached a great age when the 
Persians rebelled against him. Aristotle remarks that 


his effeminate life and the carelessness of his govern- 
ment inspired Cyrus with courage. 2 The daughter of 

1 Noldeke, " Tabari," p. 12 ; Karnamak, s. 68. 
* "Politic." 5, 10, 24. 


Alyattes of Lydia, whom he had married in his youth, 
had brought him no son ; both the Median version 
of Herodotus, and the Persian in Trogus and Ctesias, 
allow Astyages a daughter only Mandane in the 
one case, in the other Araytis, the name of the sister 
of Astyages, whom Nebuchadnezzar married. This 
daughter, according to Ctesias and Nicolaus, Astyages 
marries to Spitamas, the Mede (Qpitama, i. e. the 
excellent) and at the same time gives him " all Media 
as a dowry." Marriage with the heiress to the throne 
gave her husband the claim and right to succes- 
sion. The daughter of the king bore two sons to 
Spitamas : Spitaces and Magabernes. l About the 
origin of Cyrus there is no doubt. He was the son 
of Cambyses, the grandson of Teispes, the great-grand- 
son of Achaemenes, who united the Persian tribes 
under his leadership, and recognised the sovereignty 
of Phraortes the Median king. As Cy ax ares and 
Astyages followed Phraortes on the throne of Media, 
so did Teispes and Cambyses follow Achaemenes as 

1 If Astyages was married to the daughter of Alyattos in the year 
610 B.C. he must have been 18 or 20 years old at that time ; between 
610 and 558 the year of his fall there are 52 years. Moreover, accord- 
ing to Ctesias, Astyages outlived his fall at least ten years ("Fragm. 
Pers." 5). If this were the case, and Astyages did not die till 548, he 
cannot well have boon born before 630 B.C. In Herodotus and Pom- 
peius Trogus it is expressly said that Astyages had no son, and this is 
the motive which induces Harpagus not to put Cyrus to death, as he 
would in that case expose himself to the vengeance of the mother, the 
heiress to the throne. In Nicolaus also the daughter comes distinctly 
forward, and in Ctesias she is also the heiress (e. g. " Pers." 2) ; in the 
history of the overthrow and the death of Astyages, we hear of her 
constantly. At the death of Cyrus, her sons by the first marriage 
receive satrapies. In Ctesias, it is true, a brother of Amytis is inci- 
dentally mentioned, on the occasion of a later war of Cyrus (" Pers." 
3). But as Ctesias is here following a Median version, and after the 
death of Astyages the husband of Amytis and not her supposed 
brother is removed out of the way, no importance can be attached to 


his viceroys or vassal kings over Persia. It may have 
been the case that, as already remarked, after the 
consolidation of the Median empire, the sovereignty 
became more oppressive for the Persians, and the links 
of their dependence were drawn closer. According to 
the previous custom, the viceroyalty of Persia would 
descend, at the death of Cambyses, to his son Cyrus. 
If the custom which subsequently prevailed in the 
Persian kingdom was current among the Medes, and 
the sons of the satraps or princes of the subject lands 
tad to wait at the king's gate, and perform courtly 
or martial service as hostages for the fidelity of 
their fathers, and at the same time to learn obedience 
and submission in order to find favour with the 
king when in his immediate presence and covered by 
the splendour of his power Cyrus must also have 
served at the court of Astyages, and may have filled 
the office of the staff-bearer, body-guard, or of butler, 
an honourable position at the court of the Medes and 
Persians. In Ecbatana he had no doubt an oppor- 
tunity of comparing the simple manners, the capacity 
and vigour of his Persians, with the splendour of the 
court, and the luxurious life of the Median chiefs. 
Moreover, the great advantage which Spitamas had 
gained by marriage with the daughter of the king 
must have excited the jealousy and ambition of other 
Medes who considered themselves to have a better 
claim, or even raised their eyes to the throne. In the 
account of Herodotus, Harpagus is said to be akin to 
the family of Astyages. It is possible that Cyrus 
contemplated a breach between Persia and Media 
on the death of Astyages, when he would find his 
opportunity in a contested and previously disputed 
succession. It may be a fact that Astyages had his 
suspicions, that he summoned Cyrus who had already 


left the court before him, and Cyrus was thus com- 
pelled to break with him sooner than he intended. 
It seems more certain that Cambyses was still alive, 
than that the Persians took up arms against Astyages 
at the instigation of Cyrus, who was, as we have 
remarked, at that time in his fortieth year. 1 

It follows from the position of affairs that the 
Persians awaited the attack of the Medes in their own 
country. It was only in the defence of the passes 
of their mountains that they could hope to make 
a stand against the overwhelming power of their 
enemies. In this we may put confidence in the 
Persian tradition, as well as in all that it has to say 
of a character unfavourable to the Persians ; ^above all, 
in the fact that the war was long and severe. As a 
fact the Medes appear to have twice penetrated into 
the heart of the Persian land. Not only Nicolaus, 
Pompeius Trogus, and Polyaenus tell us that the 
struggle took place at first in Persia, and that the 
battle which saved the country was fought at Pasar- 
gadae, but also an authority of importance, Anaxi- 
menes of Lampsacus, the contemporary of Aristotle and 
Strabo (p. 357). "In reward for the services which 
the women rendered in that battle," says Nicolaus, 
" the women of Persia each received, when the king 
came to Pasargadae, a gold coin of the value of twenty 
Attic drachmas." Plutarch, as has been observed, 2 
confirms this statement, on the ground of the accounts 
of the companions of Alexander, in a very definite way. 
We must assume, therefore, that Cyrus maintained 
the independence of Persia in a very severe struggle. 
When success had been obtained, he went on to 

1 Above, p. 369. 

* Above, p. 357. NicoL Dam. Fragm. 66 ; Plut. " Alex." c. 69 ; 
Plut. "DeMuL virt."5. 


attack Media, whether it was that he did not con- 
sider the freedom of Persia secure without the over- 
throw of that country, or that he at once formed 
the most ambitious designs. After a battle in Media 
had given Cyrus the victory in this new war, the 
chiefs of the nations subject to the Medes, the Hyr- 
canians, Parthians, Sacse, and Bactrians, and finally 
a part of the Medes, must have abandoned Astyages, 
who, after a second defeat, fell into the hands of 
Cyrus either in the encounter itself or at the capture 
of Ecbatana. The walls of Ecbatana and the seven 
rings round the citadel could not avert his fate 
(558 B. c.). 1 

' According to the canon of Ptolemy, Cyrus dies 529 B.C. We arrive 
at the same year if we reckon hack from the death of Darius. This 
took place five years after the battle of Marathon (Herod. 7, 1 4), 
t. e. 485 B.C. Darius reigned 36 years according to Herodotus and the 
canon of Ptolemy. An Egyptian pillar gives the year 34, a demotic 
contract the year 35 of his reign : he ascended the throne therefore in 
521 B.C. Before him the Magian reigned for seven months, Cambyses 
for seven years and five months (Herod. 3, 66, 67). The canon of 
Ptolemy omits the Magian and gives Cambyses eight years, because it 
reckons by complete years ; hence Cambyses ascended the throne in 
529. As Cyrus, according to Herodotus, reigned 29 years after his 
accession (1, 214), the beginning of his reign over Media must be 
placed in 558. If Ctesias gives Cyrus a reign of 30 years (" Pers." 8), 
like Deinon (p. 369), and Justin (1, 8), and Eusebius a reign of 31 
years, these statements may be reconciled by the fact that Cyrus may 
have taken up arms against Media 30 or 31 years before his death, and 
reigned 29 years after the overthrow of Astyages. Diodorus puts the 
beginning of Cyrus: Olymp. 55, 1 = 560 B.C. Africanus in Euseb. 
" Praep. Evang." 10, p. 488. 



THE Median empire was not of long duration. Little 
more than a century had passed since Phraortes suc- 
ceeded Deioces in the government of the land of 
Ecbatana, little more than eighty since Phraortes had 
united the tribes of the Medes under his leadership, 
about sixty since Cyaxares had expelled the Scythians, 
and not quite fifty since Nineveh had succumbed to 
the arms of the Medes and Babylonians. 

In the overthrow of so mighty a power, Cyrus had 
achieved a great, and, so far as we can tell, an unex- 
pected, success. Scanty as our information is, we can 
still perceive that he used the victory with circum- 
spection and moderation. Herodotus told us that he 
did no injury to the captive Astyages, and kept him 
with him till his death. Ctesias relates that at the 
command of Cyrus, the heavy chains, which Oebarea 
had put on Astyages, were quickly taken off; that he 
honoured him as a father ; and entrusted him with the 
government of the Barcanians. According to the state- 
ment of Pompeius Trogus, Cyrus allowed him to be 
viceroy of the Hyrcanians. The same nation may be 
meant by these two names ; in the inscriptions of Darius 
Hyrcania is called Varkana, in the Avesta Vehrkana. 1 

1 Ctos. " Pors. Eel." 5 ; Tzetz. " CHI." 1, 1, 83 ; Justin, 1, 6. Yet 
Diodorus mentions the Barcanians together with the Hyrcaiuans (2, 


Ctesias further tells us that Cyrus put to death the 
Mecle Spitamas, whom Astyages had married to his 
daughter Amytis, and then made his successor, and 
that after treating Amytis for some time as his mother 
he subsequently made her his wife. No harm was 
done to Megabernes and Spitaces, the sons of her 
marriage with Spitamas ; on the contrary, the first 
was placed by the wish of Cyrus in the satrapy of 
the Barcanians, the second in the satrapy of the 

Cyrus must have made it his object to reconcile the 
Medes to their defeat and loss of empire. If he could 
make the house of Astyages his own, and take his 
daughter to wife, the edge of the change was softened, 
and the more apparent it was that this marriage had 
the consent of Astyages, the more legitimate would 
his rule be in the eyes of the Medes, the less could 
they regard it as the dominion of a stranger. It was 
of importance to gain the assent of the Medes to the 
new kingdom, and support this if possible on the 
united power of Medes and Persians. Moreover, the 
relations of alliance in which Astyages stood to the 
princely houses of Lydia and Babylonia made it 
advisable to deal carefully with Astyages and his 
kindred. Astyages was still alive in 549 B.C., 1 accord- 
ing to Herodotus and Ctesias. Whatever may be 
the case as to the connection of Cyrus with Amytis, 
his legitimate wife was Cassandane, the daughter of 
the Persian Pharnaspes, who according to Herodotus 
was an Achsemenid, and was in fact one of the 
six tribal princes. Cassandane bore Cyrus two sons, 

2) ; Curtius (3, 2) represents the Barcanians as providing 12,000 mon 
for the last Darius; Stephanos of Byzantium (Bapcavioi) puts them 
bosido the Ilyrcanians. Yet all these statements may rest on the 
samo misconception. 

1 Ilorod. 1, 73; above, p. 378, note. 


Cambysesand Bardiya, whom Herodotus calls Smerdis; 
Ctesias, Tanyoxarkes ; and Xenophon, Tanaoxares. 
The death of Cassandane was a great grief to Cyrus ; 
he caused the whole kingdom to go into mourning 
for her. 1 

With respect to the position which Cyrus took up 
in regard to the royal family of Media, and Amytis 
more especially, Ctesias has preserved a somewhat 
incredible story. "This narrative, which again is 
obviously taken from a poetical source, ascribes the 
death of Astyages to Oebares, to whom, according to 
Trogus, Cyrus had given the government of Persia 
and his sister in marriage, as a reward for his 
services, who in the beginning of his reign had been 
his associate in all his dangers, and whom, according 
to Ctesias, he had afterwards to thank for the capture 
of Sardis. The motive of this act, according to the 
drift of these poems, can only have been anxiety on 
the part of Oebares lest the influence of Astyages and 
his friends should endanger the succession of the house 
of Cyrus in the Persian kingdom and the dominion of 
the Persians. Oebares had previously murdered the 
Babylonian who possessed the secret which controlled 
the future of Persia, against the wishes and without 
the knowledge of Cyrus (p. 347), and he now acts in a 
similar manner towards Astyages. Cyrus, so we are 
told in our excerpt, 2 after the Lydian war sent the 
eunuch Petesaces to bring Astyages from the Bar- 
canians, as both he and Amytis wished to see him. 
Oebares advised Petesaces to abandon Astyages on 
the way in some desert place, to perish by starvation. 

1 Herod. 2, 1 ; 3, 2; 7, 11. 

* Ctesias, "Pera." 8. The narrative of the death of Astyageg 
follows the narrative of the wars against the Bactrians and Sacae, and 
against Croesus, and precedes the wars against the Derbiccians. 


This was done. The crime was revealed by dreams, 
and Cyrus, on the repeated entreaty of Amytis, gave 
Petesaces up to her for punishment. She caused 
him to be blinded, flayed, and crucified. Oebares, 
fearing that a similar lot was in store for him, 
though Cyrus assured him that he should not permit 
anything of the kind, refused all nourishment for ten 
days, and so put an end to his life. The corpse 
of Astyages received a splendid burial. Lions had 
guarded it in the desert place in which it had been 
abandoned, until Petesaces returned and carried it 
away. In the poem in which the singing woman 
warns Astyages against Cyrus he is compared to a 
lion (p. 349). "Whether the lions performed this 
service to the corpse of Astyages in the source from 
which Ctesias copied it could scarcely by such an 
incident exhibit him as a man favoured by heaven 
or whether the lions dealt with the corpse in a 
manner more in accordance with the views of Eastern 
Iran, we must leave out of the question. What is 
more certain is, that the most zealous Persian could 
have no real reason for putting Astyages to death, for 
after the Lydian war he would be in his eightieth 
year. The importance ascribed to Amytis points to 
a Median version ; the death of Oebares is accounted 
for in a manner suitable to his life and his fidelity. 

In Herodotus the Persians, on the instigation of 
Artembares, one of their tribesmen, say to Cyrus : 
" Since Zeus gives the sovereignty to the Persians, 
and above all to thee, Cyrus, who hast overthrown 
Astyages, so let it be thy care that we leave our land 
and obtain a better, for our country is small and wild. 
Many better regions are close at hand, many at a 
distance, and if we gain one of them, we shall be 
more admired in the eyes of men. To do this is 

VOL. V. C C 


proper for men who possess the dominion, and when 
can it be done better than now, when we have so 
many men, and rule over all Asia ? " When Cyrus 
heard this he expressed no astonishment, but said 
simply : they might do so, but they must be prepared 
to be rulers no longer, but subjects ; the same land 
could not produce the noblest fruits and warlike men. 
The Persians saw that Cyrus' view was the better, 
and chose to inhabit and rule over a scanty land, 
rather than be the slaves of others. 1 The distinct 
opposition of Cyrus and Artembares seems to carry 
us back to Persian poems, otherwise the narrative is 
less likely to belong to the tradition of Persia than 
to arise out of the necessity which the Greeks felt 
for explaining how the Persians succeeded in founding 
so mighty an empire from a mountain country so 
moderate in extent. 

In any case the Persians, after the overthrow of 
Media, were far from possessing the dominion over 
Asia. In Nicolaus, it is true, when the news is spread 
abroad that Astyages has retired from Persia and 
has fled before Cyrus in the first battle in Media, 
the chief of the Hyrcanians comes with 50,000 men, 
to pay homage to Cyrus as king ; he is followed by 
the chiefs of the Parthians, Sacse, and Bactrians, and 
then by the remaining nations. But as a fact the 
course of things seems to have been different. If the 
princes and natives who were subject to the Medes 
were ready to throw off their dominion as soon as 
they were defeated by the Persians, they were hardly 
inclined to recognise Cyrus as sovereign in the room 
of Astyages. Herodotus tells us that Cyrus subju- 
gated the Bactrians and Sacse, and Upper Asia, one 
nation after the other, and puts these conquests after 
1 Herod. 9, 122. 


the Lydian war. 1 Xenophon represents the Hyrcanians 
as joining Cyrus at an early date, and the Cadusians 
follow their example, which harmonises with the view 
taken in the Persian poems of the hatred of the 
Cadusians to the Medes. In Xenophon and Ctesias 
the Sacte are the allies of Cyrus as early as 549 B.C. 2 
If Astyages receives the satrapy of the Hyrcanians 
in Justin, this nation and the Parthians, who were 
still nearer neighbours of Media, must have been 
among those who were subject to Cyrus. 

In Ctesias, Cyrus after the conquest of Astyages 
marches against the Bactrians ; the battle was un- 
decided. But when they found that Astyages was 
the father and Amytis the wife of Cyrus, the Bac- 
trians voluntarily submitted to Amytis and Cyrus. 
Then Cyrus conquered the Sacae, and took their king 
Amorges captive. We remember that, according to 
Herodotus' statement, the proper name of the Sacse was 
Amyrgians, and in the inscriptions of Darius we found 
the Qaka Humavarka. The name Amorges seems to 
be borrowed from the Amyrgians. When Amorges 
had been defeated and taken captive by Cyrus, his 
wife Sparethra, as she is called in Ctesias, collected 
the Sacae and took the field with them. Zarinaea, 
a princess of the Sacee, had previously fought with 
great bravery against the Medes, but her achieve- 
ments are far surpassed by those of Sparethra. With 
300,000 men and 200,000 armed women, she went 
against the Persians, and defeated Cyrus, taking many 
captives, among whom were Medes of distinction. As 
a ransom for these Amorges was restored to Sparethra, 
and there was friendship between Cyrus and the king 
of the Sacse, and the latter marched with him to the 
war against the Lydians. Strabo also speaks of a 

1 Herod. 1, 177. * "Cyri instit." 5, 3, 22. 

C C 2 


battle in which Cyrus was defeated by the Sacse. 
Being hard pressed on his retreat he abandoned his 
camp with large stores of every kind, especially of 
wine. When the Sacae had enjoyed their spoil, 
Cyrus fell upon them and massacred nearly all. 1 

Trogus following Deinon tells us that the nations 
who were subject to the Medes did not submit to 
Cyrus. Hence arose many wars. The greater part of 
these nations he had already overpowered, before he 
marched against the Lydians, i. e. in the first eight 
years after the overthrow of Astyages. We may assume 
that Cyrus, immediately after the dethronement of 
Astyages, was occupied with bringing the neighbours 
of Media on the east, north, and west into obedience 
to the new kingdom. So long as the Parthians, 
Hyrcanians, Armenians, were independent or in arms 
against Cyrus, the Medes must be strongly tempted 
to recover their lost dominion. The Cadusians in 
Ghilan were subjects of Cyrus ; at any rate the name 
of the city Cyropolis on the Caspian Sea, on the 
coast of the Cadusians, is a proof that Cyrus placed a 
fortress there, in order to keep them or their neigh- 
bours in check ; and under the successors of Cyrus 
the Cadusians are always mentioned as subjects. 2 
Then he took the same line towards the west, on 
which Cyaxares of Media had advanced sixty years 
previously after driving out the Scythians ; he gained 
Armenia and Cappadocia, and made the Halys the 
border of his kingdom towards Lydia. In his narra- 
tive of the events of the year 549 B.C., Herodotus 
remarks that the Cappadocians were subject to Cyrus, 

1 Strabo, p. 512. 

* Ptolem. 6, 2 ; Ammian, 23, 6. The rebellion of the Cadusians at 
a later time was mentioned by Xenopb, " llellen." 2, 1, 13; Plut. 
"Artaxerx." 24; Diod. 15, 8; Justin, 10, 3. They fought with the 
last Darius at Arbela ; Arrian, " Anab." 3, 11. 


having previously been subjects of the Mecles. It is 
clear from repeated statements that at this time the 
Halys was the western border of the empire of Cyrus. 1 
Xenopbon reckons the subjugation of the Armenians, 
who had been subjects of the Medes, among the 
earliest achievements of Cyrus ; he tells the story 
in his own manner, and places after this the sub- 
jection of the neighbours on the south, the Chal- 
daeans (Gordyaeans) who dwelt in the mountains 
which separate the table-land of Armenia from the 
hilly country of Assyria. The legends of the Cappa- 
docians conceal their subjugation to Cyrus under 
supposed links of alliance ; Cambyses, the father of 
Cyrus, had given his own sister Atossa in marriage to 
Pharnaces, the king of the Cappadocians. 2 The ex- 
tension of the Persian dominion to the east over 
Parthia and Hyrcania, the subjugation of the Dran- 
gians, Gedrosians, and Arachoti, must, in consideration 
of the observation of Herodotus, that in 548 B.C. 
Cyrus was intent on military preparations against 
the Bactrians and Sacaa, and the urgent difficulties 
which at that time summoned him to the east, be 
placed in the later years of his reign ; in fact, they 
cannot come earlier than the second decade ; which 
does not, however, make it impossible that Cyrus 
should have fought against the Bactrians and Sacse 
in the first decade. 3 

Cyrus must have arranged his court and state after 
the pattern of Media, which in its turn was a copy 

1 Croesus, whoa he has crossed the Halys, is at once in Persian 
territory ; Herod. 1, 72, 73. 

2 Xenoph. "Cyri instit." 3, 1 ; 3, 2, 1, 2 ; 7, 2, 5 ; Diod. 31, 19. 

3 The serious difficulty of Cyrus is shown by his rapid march back 
from. Sardis with much the larger part of his army before the Greek 
cities, the Lycians and Carians wore reduced. Cp. Vol. VI. chapters 
8 and 9. 


of the court of the kings of Asshur and Babylon. 
Ctesias asserts that Petesaces, the eunuch, and after 
his death Bagapates, another eunuch, had great in- 
fluence with Cyrus. 1 The abode of Achaemenes, 
Teispes, and Cambyses, the ancient place of assembly 
and metropolis of the tribe of the Pasargadae, was 
changed by Cyrus into a city and fortress ; there he 
built his palace, in which he deposited the spoil of 
his wars, and collected his treasures. 2 The new 
kingdom rested on the power of the Persians ; they 
alone had to pay no tribute to the king ; they formed 
the nucleus of the army ; the leaders and satraps 
were mainly chosen from them. But Cyrus was 
obviously anxious to reconcile the Medes, next to 
the Persians, with the change in affairs, and win 
their aid. This design lay at the base of his treatment 
of Astyages and the marriage with his daughter, and 
scarcely ten years after the fall of the Median king- 
dom, we find Medes at the head of the army of 
Cyrus. The clemency of Cyrus towards the other 
subject nations is also extolled. Herodotus vouches 
for the fact that he laid no fixed tribute upon them, 
but left it to themselves to fix the amount of their 
yearly contributions. Of all men, Xenophon says, 
Cyrus made the largest presents, and exhibited the 
greatest liberality towards those who had done him 
good service, and in this the subsequent kings of 
Persia followed his example. 

According to Xenophon's description, Cyrus was 
of a kindly disposition, eager to instruct himself, and 

1 " Persic." 9. 

* Strabo, p. 730; Curt 5, 6, 10; Arrian, "Anab." 3, 16, 18. The 
observation in Xenophon (" Cyri instil" 5, 2, 1), that Cyrus whenever 
he trod the soil of Persia gave a piece of gold to each Persian man and 
woman, may have arisen from the presents to the women of Pasar- 


so ambitious that he shrank from no effort and no 
danger. 1 With the Greeks he passes not only for 
the founder of the dominion of the Persians, but 
for the author of excellent arrangements in the king- 
dom. From this point of view Xenophon wrote his 
treatise on Cyrus. By his example he wished to 
prove to the Greeks how the empire over nations 
could be gained, how a great kingdom could be 
founded and maintained, how a ruler could command 
obedience even among those who had never seen 
him and were separated by great distances. It is 
a historical romance which he has written on Cyrus ; 
but he knew the Persian empire, and could not 
advance anything absolutely in contradiction to the 
current opinion of the Greeks about Cyrus. Accord- 
ing to him the relation of Cyrus to the Persians 
rested on a kind of compact. When his son had 
subjugated the nations far and wide, Cambyses col- 
lected the elders of the Persians and the officers 
who held the highest places, and told them the 
Persians had elected Cyrus to be their general, and 
given him the army ; Cyrus had extended their 
power over Asia, and gained glory among all men ; 
he had made the bravest men in the army rich, and 
found pay and food for all the soldiers. If this 
relation were maintained it would be for the advan- 
tage of both parties ; if, on the other hand, Cyrus 
sought to rule over the Persians with the same caprice 
as over other nations, or the Persians should attempt 
to take the command from him, each would do the 
greatest harm to the other. Let Cyrus, therefore, 
undertake to protect Persia and uphold the Persian 
laws, and the Persians to render Cyrus any service 
that he needed against rebellion and enemies. "After 
1 " Cyri instit." 1, 2, 1. 


me," Cambyses concludes, "Cyrus will be king, and 
whenever he comes to Persia he will offer for you 
the sacrifice which I am offering now. If he is 
in a foreign land, it will be best for the noblest 
of our family to offer sacrifices to the gods." " What 
Cambyses proposed was approved by Cyrus and the 
Persians with invocations to the gods, and the ar- 
rangement is still observed on both sides." 1 Plato 
even puts Cyrus on the same level as Lycurgus, 
the founder of the constitution of Sparta. He gives 
Dion the choice of rivalling the ancient Lycurgus or 
Cyrus, or any one else who may be distinguished 
by moral excellence and political wisdom. 2 Accord- 
ing to the Laws, Cyrus, brought up from his youth 
in the camp and surrounded by danger, became a 
skilful general, and as a ruler kept before his eyes 
the prosperity of the state. In the same book we 
are told that the monarchical form of government 
attained its most complete state among the Persians, 
and the democratic among the Athenians. But as 
the Persian state pursued absolute dominion, and 
the Attic uncontrolled freedom, neither discovered 
the correct limit ; though in ancient times they had 
observed due moderation. At the time of Cyrus the 
Persians were midway between slavery and freedom. 
At first they were free, then they became the lords 
of others. But while ruling they had given the 
subjects a share in freedom, and treated them on 
an equal footing. For this reason the warriors were 
devoted to their general and ready to plunge into 
danger. And if an intelligent man appeared, who 
could give wise counsel, Cyrus gave him liberty to 
speak ; and as he honoured those who knew how 

1 " Cyri instit" 8, 5, 21 ff. 

1 Plato, " Epp." 4, p. 320. Cf. " Menexen." p. 239. 


to give advise, every opinion was made use of for 
the common good, and the Persians of that day 
succeeded in everything by freedom, concord, and 
common deliberation. 1 

1 " Legg." p. 693, 694. Cicero, (" de Republ." 1, 27, 28), calls Cyrus 
the most just, wise, and amiable of rulers. 




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